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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, depression, or 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.

Warning signs of teenage drug or alcohol abuse may include:

- a drop in school performance,

- a change in groups of friends,
- delinquent behavior, and
- deterioration in family relationships.
Health and Behavioral Risks of
Alcohol and Drug Use
 The negative physical and mental effects of the use of alcohol and other drugs
are well documented. Use of these drugs may cause: blackouts, poisoning,
overdose and death; physical and psychological dependence; damage to vital
organs such as the brain, heart, and liver; inability to learn and remember
information; and psychological problems including depression, psychosis, and
severe anxiety.

 Alcohol and drug abuse are associated with acquaintance assault and rape, and
it can also the cause of unwanted or unplanned sexual experiences and

 It can affect the student’s academic work, emotional wellbeing and etc.
 hangovers
 academic problems--missed classes, getting behind in
school work
 arguing with friends
 engaging in unwanted and/or unprotected sexual activity
 getting injured / assaulted / sexually assaulted
 damaging property or having your property damaged
 requiring treatment for alcohol poisoning
 trouble on campus or with police
 being insulted or humiliated
 having your study or sleep interrupted
 developing tolerance, dependence or addiction
 death from alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related injury
Alcohol is addictive and regular use can lead to dependence
and addiction/alcoholism, even in college-age students. People
with a family history of substance abuse are 4 - 10 x more likely
than the general population to develop substance abuse and
addiction in their lifetime, and tend to do so at an earlier age.
People who begin drinking before age 15 are 5x more likely to
develop substance abuse issues in their lifetime, as well.
The Effects of Substance of Abuse
on Behavior and Parenting
ALCOHOL  Lowers inhibitions, often  A parent may forget or
leading to inappropriate or neglect to attend to
risky Behaviors parenting responsibilities.
 Impairs judgment  A parent may stay out all
 Diminishes motor night and leave children
coordination alone due to intoxication.
 A parent may have rages
and depressive episodes,
creating an unstable
environment for children.
COCAINE  In addition to an influx of  A child's crying, which may
energy, cocaine also be only a mild annoyance to
heightens the senses. a non-using parent, is
Colors appear brighter, magnified in its intensity to
smells seem stronger, and the parent on cocaine.
noises sound louder.  A parent may become angry
 After prolonged use, or impatient with a child for
cocaine also increases any reason because of
irritability and aggression in thought distortion and
the user. misperception of the child's
 Cocaine can result in intent.
psychotic distortions of
thought such that the user
imagines and acts on
projections to others of his
or her own aggression.
CRACK/CRACK COCAINE  In the smokeable form known as  A parent addicted to crack can leave an
crack, cocaine cycles rapidly infant or toddler alone for hours or
through the body so that a physical sometimes days at a time to pursue the
and psychological "high" vanishes  CPS workers frequently investigate
quickly, within 5 to 15 minutes, maltreatment reports in homes barren of
leaving in its wake anxiety, furniture and appliances that have been
depression, and paranoia, as well sold to purchase crack and other drugs.
as an intense craving for a return to  The absence of food in the refrigerator or
the euphoric state. cupboards is evidence of parental
 Crack heightens feelings of power inability to attend to a child's most basic
and control over one’s life, feelings  Some parents will do whatever it takes to
that may be sorely lacking in those pursue their habit, even if it means
belonging to oppressed social sacrificing the health and well-being of
groups loved ones.
 Crack can contribute to a significant
increase in sexual abuse of young
children in two ways:
 The heightened physical sensations
induced by crack can lead users to seek
out sexual encounters. A child who is
available and unprotected by a
functioning adult, as when children
accompany parents to so-called crack
houses, is an easy target for sexual
abuse by an individual high on crack.
 Very young children, even babies, can be
prostituted by their crack-addicted
parents desperate to obtain the drug.
Teenage Drug Abuse Changes the Brain

Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug abuse greatly
changes the human brain. In fact, drugs and alcohol affect the
teenage brain even more than the adult brain. Teen brains are still in
development. Thus, the neural patterns are more vulnerable to the
dangers of alcohol abuse and drug abuse.

This is another major reason why teens use drugs beyond the initial
experimentation phase. As addictive agents, many drugs activate the
brain’s pleasure circuit. Once a teen’s pleasure circuit has been
activated, the teen is compelled to repeat the same negative

Once a teen tries a drug, the risk factors skyrocket. This proven fact is
true even if the teen is just experimenting. Experimentation leads to
drug abuse and possibly addiction.
Teenagers Need to be Protected

Given the risks involved, teens need to be safeguarded and protected.

Once drugs are introduced into the teenage brain, the brain functioning
alters. In truth, almost all drugs change the way the brain works, including
alcohol. This change is described by scientists as chemical
neurotransmission damage. Once a teen’s brain is altered in this manner,
the risk factors for ongoing teen drug and alcohol use increase greatly.

Parents need to catch teen drug use early. In most cases, the initial
changes in neural transmission can be healed. In cases of prolonged
drug use, the changes become more fundamental. These long-lasting
changes are a major component of the disease of addiction. It is one
reason why addiction is now referred to as a brain disease.
Alcohol and Drug Use Side Effects
■ Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and drugs over the course of days, weeks or
years can take a toll on your body. Some effects may be minor and only last temporarily.
Other effects may last much longer and can cause permanent damage. Generally, the
amount of alcohol consumed and type of drug involved influence health consequences.

Several short-term alcohol and drug use side effects are:

- Increased or decreased heart rate
- Muscle control difficulties
- Lowering inhibitions
- Short-term memory loss
- Heightened emotions of sadness, anxiety or fear
- Lack of concentration
- Respiratory problems
■ Along with the temporary side effects of alcohol and drug abuse, there are complications
that can be long-lasting. Some of these conditions can put you at a greater risk of
developing additional health issues later on in life.

The long-term effects of alcohol and drug abuse include:

- Damage to internal organs
-Muscle and bone breakdown
- Long-term memory impairment
- Lack of coordination skills
- Problems coping on the job or in school
- Poor nutrition
- Nasal perforation (in cocaine abuse)
The Harmful Effects of Drugs and
■ Health Complications
■ Infections
■ Legal Consequences
■ Financial Problems
■ Injuries and Deaths
4 Ways to Prevent Alcohol and
Drug Abuse in Your Teen
■ Communicate
■ Set boundaries
■ Lead by example
■ Be available