Alcohol & Drug Abuse
Use and abuse
of drugs and alcohol
by teens is very common and can have serious consequences. In
the 15-24 year age range, 50% of deaths (from accidents, homicides,
suicides) involve alcohol or drug abuse. Drugs and alcohol also
contribute to physical and sexual aggression such as assault or
rape. Possible stages of teenage experience with alcohol and drugs
include abstinence (non-use), experimentation, regular use (both
recreational and compensatory for other problems), abuse, and
dependency. Repeated and regular recreational use can lead to
other problems like anxiety and depression. Some teenagers regularly
use drugs or alcohol to compensate for anxiety,
a lack of positive social skills. Teen use of tobacco and alcohol
should not be minimized because they can be "gateway drugs"
for other drugs (marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants,
and heroin). The combination of teenagers' curiosity, risk taking
behavior, and social pressure make it very difficult to say no.
This leads most teenagers to the questions: "Will it hurt
to try once?"
A teenager with a family history
of alcohol or drug abuse and a lack of pro-social skills can move
rapidly from experimentation to patterns of serious abuse or dependency.
Some other teenagers with no family history of abuse who experiment
may also progress to abuse or dependency. Therefore, there is
a good chance that "one" will hurt you. Teenagers
with a family history of alcohol or drug abuse are particularly
advised to abstain and not experiment. No one can predict for
sure who will abuse or become dependent on drugs except to say
the non-user never will.
Warning signs of teenage drug or alcohol abuse may include:
* a drop in school performance,
* a change in groups of friends,
* delinquent behavior
* deterioration in family relationships.
There may also be physical signs
such as red eyes, a persistent cough, and change in eating and
sleeping habits. Alcohol or drug dependency may include blackouts,
withdrawal symptoms, and further problems in functioning at home,
school, or work.
Problems of Children &
Gay & Lesbian