Teenage and Young Adult Alcohol and Other Drug Use Rates While drug use trends and rates may vary from year to year, research shows that substance abuse remains a persistent and pressing problem for adolescents and young adults. What’s more, this population tends to minimize the risk of substance use, which puts them at greater risk for abusing alcohol or other drugs. How Does Drug Use Affect the Teen Brain? The brain continues to grow and evolve through the teenage years and into young adulthood, including the systems that govern emotions and impulses. Because these areas of the brain are not fully developed, adolescents and young adults are prone to take risks, seek out new sensations, and become easily influenced by their peers—all of which can lead to alcohol or other drug use. Drug use during this crucial developmental period can also interfere with social development and compromise cognitive development. Research has shown, for example, that heavy marijuana use by teens can cause the loss of several IQ points, and that cognitive loss is not regained even if the teen stops using marijuana in adulthood. And because the teenage brain is still developing, adolescents and young adults who use alcohol or other substances are at risk of altering their brains in lasting ways, including a greater susceptibility to eventually developing addiction. Adolescence and young adulthood is also a time with a lot of social pressures: pressure to fit in, get good grades, perform on the field, or move out on their own. It can be a tough time for the average teen, but when mental health issues make coping difficult, the need to find relief from anxiety, depression, trauma or emotional pain can push teens and young adults toward drug abuse. And while substance abuse might offer temporary relief, heavy or long-term drug abuse typically brings negative consequences that outweigh the initial relief. Teenage substance abuse can also lead to high-risk behaviors that have lifelong impact. Engaging in unprotected sex, driving while intoxicated, acting aggressively or violently, or experiencing sexual assault can all change the course of a young person’s life. Especially for teenagers, the potential for alcohol poisoning or drug overdose is also a serious concern. When substance abuse is in the picture, a young person’s hopes and dreams can get put on hold—or lost for good. So identifying and intervening early is important. Unfortunately, only 10% of young people who need drug rehab actually go to a treatment program or otherwise get the help and care they require. Most teens who need addiction treatment don’t think they need help or don’t want help. And parents often don’t realize the extent of their adolescent’s alcohol or drug use or they dismiss substance use as just a normal part of growing up. While not all teens or young adults who use alcohol, marijuana or other drugs will become addicted, there are risk factors that make the likelihood of addiction greater. Family history—if any biological family members struggle with substance abuse, there’s a greater chance the young person could be at risk for addiction. Age—the earlier a young a person starts using alcohol or drugs, the greater the risk for addiction. Surroundings—exposure to and access to alcohol or other drugs “normalizes” substance abuse and makes it “the thing to do;” a lack of supervision or support at home can also be a risk factor. Mental health—teenagers and young adults may start using substances to ease the discomfort of an anxiety disorder or social phobia; being bullied, struggling with sexual identity, and coping with other stressors are also risk factors. Can You Prevent Teen Drug Abuse? First of all, you need to know that most teens are choosing not to use substances. It’s simply not true that “everybody’s doing it.” What is true is that, as a parent, you have more influence than you probably realize. Talk with your kids about substance abuse. Prevention experts agree that having 60, one-minute conversations with your kids is much more impactful than having one, 60-minute conversation. So share meals together and ask about their day. Know their friends and the parents of their friends. Set expectations and consequences, and state clearly to your kids that you expect they will not use drugs. Then, back up your expectations by following through on consequences. How Do You Know if Your Kid Is Addicted or Abusing Substances? As a parent, it’s important to trust your gut instincts on this along with recognizing the physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of possible teen drug abuse. Knowing these signs and symptoms can also help you determine whether professional counseling and help are needed. Even if it’s not addiction, early intervention in adolescent alcohol or other drug use can prevent problems from occurring later. Why Is Addiction Called a Family Disease? There are two interpretations to consider: Addiction is a disease that tends to run in families. Addiction is a disease that hurts everyone in the family. The painful truth is that addicts and alcoholics do things that hurt their families—lie, steal, manipulate. These behaviors are typical when addiction takes hold. And because there is such stigma and judgment associated with addiction, families feel ashamed and alone against the disease. As a parent, you need to know that you did not cause your child’s addiction, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. But you also need to know that addiction treatment works and that families can and do heal. Learn more about available resources for families facing addiction. If You Think Your Teen Might Need Drug Rehab, What Should You Do? The first step is to get a drug abuse assessment for your son or daughter by a licensed professional. Hazelden Betty Ford treatment centers offer free, confidential phone-based screenings and in-person assessments. Our rehab experts will let you know if addiction is indicated and, if so, what types of addiction treatment options would be most effective for your teen or young adult. Our experts will also work with you and your insurance company to help you identify your coverage for rehab and access your benefits. Hazelden Betty Ford is in-network with most major insurance companies. The two general categories of addiction treatment offered at Hazelden Betty Ford are inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. Inpatient addiction treatment is a campus-based intensive rehab program with separate lodging and programs for males and females. Your child would live on site with 24/7 support and participate in individual and group counseling and other therapeutic and educational activities. Outpatient rehab comes in several different forms at Hazelden Betty Ford treatment centers, including day treatment (the most supportive outpatient treatment program) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) which vary in frequency of attendance based the individual patient’s progress in meeting clinical milestones. Staying in one of our on-campus sober living facilities is an option our clinicians might recommend for teens and young adults who participate in our outpatient programs. These welcoming, safe peer living communities have built-in addiction recovery support and resources. Once a patient completes inpatient or outpatient primary treatment, our clinical team may recommend attending a continuing care group for ongoing counseling and to reinforce and strengthen healthy behaviors, relationships and lifestyle practices. For adolescents and young adults diagnosed with opioid, prescription drug, or heroin addiction, we offer specialized drug abuse treatment programs that have been proven effective. Drug rehab at Hazelden Betty Ford treatment centers may involve the use of medications in detox and to ease the discomfort of withdrawal and reduce cravings. Learn more about opioid addiction treatment at Hazelden Betty Ford. Patients who struggle with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety will benefit from our programming and counseling that integrates treatment for both addiction and mental health conditions. Our highly trained and licensed mental health professionals specialize in counseling services for adolescent and young adult patients as well as families. When selecting an addiction treatment center for your loved one, make sure the rehab facility is licensed and staff members are certified and licensed to practice in the fields of addiction and mental health treatment. Also, be sure the treatment center uses evidence-based protocols, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Twelve Step Facilitation, to name a few. And because addiction is a family disease, look for centers that offer programs, support and resources for families. Post-treatment guidance, counseling and coaching is also important for your son or daughter to reduce the risk of relapse and to strengthen recovery concepts and practices learned in treatment. Hazelden Betty Ford offers teen and young adult drug rehab at the following locations: Plymouth, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois; and San Diego, California. Choose the most effective alcohol and drug rehab for your child. Hazelden Betty Ford is the best place for your son or daughter—and your whole family—to find healing, hope and lasting recovery. It's time to get your kid back; pick up the phone and call 1-866-831-5700 to get started.