According to the yearly “Monitoring the Future” survey of high school age teenagers in the United States, by the time our kids complete high school, a minimum of 40 percent have consumed an illicit drug and 70 percent have consumed alcohol. Furthermore, 22 percent of our seniors in high school had used enough alcohol to become drunk within the two-week span prior to being surveyed, and one in every 15 students in high school was using marijuana daily or almost daily.
These statistics happen in spite of the best efforts of teachers and parents to direct our youth along drug-free paths. Every story will have its unique qualities, but every story will include some patterns discovered in the approach to addiction witnessed in young adults.
Many teenagers begin attending parties in which they share alcohol or drugs with other teens. They begin to steal alcohol from parents and maybe neighbors or friends’ homes. Some teens obtain false identification cards and visit liquor stores or bars. Marijuana is an additional typical drug of misuse among young people.
Abuse of prescription drugs is an additional road to addiction for young people. They obtain prescription medication from friends or their parents’ medicine cabinets. Or they may lift medication from additional family members or other houses they visit.
Some young people obtain a taste for drugs after receiving them from their own psychiatrists or family doctors. Ritalin, Adderall and even Prozac might be prescribed for teens seen as overstressed or overactive. A car accident or sports injury might result in a painkiller prescription. A prolonged course of these pills might provide a teenager a tolerant attitude toward use of drugs or even result in the initial addiction stages.
Continuing in Adulthood
As teenagers grow and go to college or begin to work, their patterns of substance abuse follow them. College might permit an individual to increase substance abuse without her (or his) parents knowing.
A teenager who begins to work or who marries and begins a family will carry these habits along with him or her as well.
One habit, which accompanies drug abuse, is lying. A teen learns early on how to lie and manipulate the people around him or her. As the necessity for alcohol and drugs increases, the manipulation and lying keeps other people from interfering. Unfortunately, the addicted may be so skillful at manipulation that their destructive habit might continue for years prior to the family realizing the only answer is drug rehabilitation.
A deterioration of integrity and morals starts to dramatically change the individual’s life. If needed, the addicted individual is going to resort to crime in order to keep his drug habit supplied. An individual might sell drugs and trade, steal, sell or pawn whatever he or she is able to get hands on. Families routinely discover that valuables within the home go missing. Many have to change their locks in order to get the theft to stop.
Drugs will affect different parts of the body and impair normal functioning. Individuals know that drug misuse is dangerous, yet most of them do not know its exact effects. It’s important to understand the long-term and short-term effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the body to keep away from them. Prior to discussing the long-term and short-term effects of the drugs, here’s a short overview on several drugs.
It’s among the most misused drugs in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 50 percent of Americans (or 130.6 million) age 12 and older were present alcohol drinkers within 2009. Alcohol is a harmful central nervous system depressant. It might be as potent as most illicit drugs of misuse. The primary issue with alcohol is that most individuals often don’t recognize that they’re growing addicted to it.
Cannabis is the most typically misused illicit drug in the United States. NSDUH reports that there were 16.7 million abusers of marijuana in 2009. The drug will have similar effects as hallucinogens, depressants and stimulants. Pot smoke has more carcinogens than tobacco smoke and creates a greater lung disease risk.
Cocaine is highly addictive and a strong stimulant to the central nervous system. There were 1.6 million cocaine users age 12 and older in 2009.
Alcohol beverages: Alcohol intoxication impairs motor skills and brain function, causes behavioral changes, alters capability of learning and remembering, and decreases sensitivity to pain. Alcohol consumption affects vision, which narrows the visual field, decreasing resistance to glare and reducing sensitivity to colors. High doses of alcohol may lead to death. Alcohol, if consumed with additional illicit drugs, may trigger life-threatening effects.
Marijuana: Short-range effects of marijuana involve significant rise in heart rate, reddening of the eyes, dry throat and mouth. Pot use additionally boosts body temperature, drowsiness and appetite. Cannabis impairs the capability of driving a car or working on a machine as it will affect coordination, reaction time and concentration.
Cocaine: Instant effects of cocaine use involve high blood pressure, stuffy nose, dilated pupils and respiratory and heart problems. A freebase cocaine form, crack, causes increased pulse rate, dilated pupils, insomnia, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations, loss of appetite, seizures and paranoia. In some instances, cocaine use may cause death by cardiac arrest. Users of cocaine might experience restlessness, anxiety, tremors, twitches, coordination problems, spasms, nausea, chest pain, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest and seizures. In rare cases, first-time cocaine use also can cause immediate death.
Alcoholic beverages: Drinking large amounts of alcohol for lengthier periods may produce permanent liver, brain, stomach and pancreas damage. It also may cause high blood pressure, malnutrition and reduced resistance to diseases as well as gastrointestinal issues. Heavy alcohol consumption may lead to cancer in important organs like the pancreas, liver, stomach and esophagus.
Marijuana: Long-range marijuana use may decrease short-term memory as well as capability of performing tasks that require coordination and concentration. It may produce lung damage, respiratory problems and cancer.
Cocaine: Long-range users of cocaine risk respiratory failure, heart attacks, seizures, strokes, abdominal pain, nausea, abnormal heartbeat, headaches and chest pain.
Aside from causing danger to an individual’s health, drug misuse deteriorates financial condition, impacts users’ interpersonal relationships and decreases the capability of working. Therefore, it’s important to avoid drug use.
Young people will hear about alcohol and other drugs from friends, family and the media. Unfortunately, much of what they hear is based on myth and misconception and, as a result, may not always be true or accurate.
Some teenagers have already seen firsthand the dangers of alcohol and other drugs and the damage these substances can do to the individual, to relationships, to friendships and to families. Maybe you are a teen concerned about your mom, dad, uncle, friend, neighbor or even yourself. If so, I hope you found this information helpful.
If you are looking for easy-to-understand drug information please go to RayLozano.com and sign up for the monthly newsletter.
Ray Lozano is the chief executive officer of Prevention Plus. Lozano also has served as a pastor for the Free Methodist Church in Southern California.3