Drug and Alcohol Abuse
With the stresses of peer pressure, physical changes and self-discovery, teens are particularly at risk for drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse. The effects of drug use on the developing minds and bodies of these teens can have lasting negative impact. Teen drug and alcohol use can lead to health problems, poor academic performance, lack of motivation, alienation and emotional instability.
Student programs highlighting the dangers of teen drug and alcohol use can prevent students from falling into these risk behaviors. Book a Drug and Alcohol Abuse program for your school.
Teen Alcohol Abuse
Teen alcohol consumption is an easy problem to overlook. It may not seem like a major issue until you look at the fact that alcohol consumption and alcohol-related incidents cause more teen deaths in the US than cancer and other diseases combined.
- In the three leading causes of death for teenagers – automobile crashes, homicide, and suicide – alcohol is the leading factor in all three – Ohio State University
- Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with approximately 80,000 deaths per year – CDC
- Long-term alcohol misuse is associated with liver disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological damage as well as psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, and antisocial personality disorder – CDC
- 72% of students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school, and 37% have done so by 8th grade – SADD
- Alcohol is a contributing factor in over 75% of all date rapes.
- Teens who drink before age 15 are more likely to develop dependence than those who start drinking after 21 – Ohio State University
The motivation of binge drinking is to intentionally get drunk. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as consuming five or more drinks in a row for boys and four or more in a row for girls. This is determined by the blood alcohol concentration reached within two hours. The higher the blood alcohol concentration, the greater the risk of injuries and organ damage. Teenagers typically consume more drinks per occasion than adults.
- Among the 41.8% of high school students who drink, 60.9% are binge drinkers. Overall, one in four high school students binge drink – WebMD
- In 2010, there were 189,000 emergency room visits by underage drinkers for injuries or other conditions linked to alcohol – CDC
Teen Drug Use
Drugs interfere with the way the brain works, releasing chemicals that fool the brain into reacting abnormally. These chemicals affect portions of the brain that control breathing and circulation, emotional responses, and decision making. Because of the difference in genetics and body chemistry, different people are affected differently and become addicted at different rates. Some people might take drugs repeatedly before an addiction kicks in. Others may be hooked after the first time. But, whether a person is addicted or not, using drugs even one time can permanently damage their physical, emotional and mental health.
The teen brain is especially susceptible to the effects of drugs and alcohol because their brains are still developing. The human brain is not fully formed until age 24. Consuming drugs and alcohol while the brain is still developing can negatively affect brain functions like memory and learning, this makes teen drug use especially dangerous.
Why drugs are addictive
Drugs stimulate the reward center of the brain. They give the brain an unnatural pleasure response that floods the brain with chemicals to make it ‘feel good.’ This flood of chemicals changes the way the brain works. It slows down the natural production of dopamine and inhibits the natural way a person feels enjoyment. Soon, even the unnatural sense of pleasure begins to wear off causing addicts to take increasing amounts to feel the same level of ‘high.’
Types of drugs
Marijuana: 2/3 of all marijuana users are under age 18, making it the most-used illicit drug among teens. Today’s pot contains more than twice the concentration of THC (the chemical that affects the brain) compared to pot 20 years ago. It is also known as a gateway drug since marijuana users are 9 times more likely than nonusers to experiment with other illegal drugs.
Prescription drugs: The most abused prescription drugs among teens are pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and anti-depressants. Teens may incorrectly assume that prescription drugs are safer than illicit drugs, but misusing these medications can have serious health effects. 40% of teens say they know of at least one friend who abuses prescription drugs.
Inhalants: Sniffing glue, butane or computer dusting air sprays and other inhalants starve the body of oxygen and force the heart to beat irregularly and more rapidly. They can cause sudden death, suffocation, choking and heart attacks.
Club drugs: The most popular of these is Ecstasy. Club drugs affect muscle control and can cause seizures, brain damage and heart attacks. They also can impair the senses, memory, judgment and coordination.
Methamphetamines: The second most deadly drug in the US is meth. Methamphetamines are highly addictive and cause liver, kidney and lung damage as well as destroying a user’s teeth. The use of these drugs can cause severe brain damage resulting in paranoia, delusions, violence and psychotic behavior.
Cheese: Recently, certain areas have seen a resurgence in the usage of cheese in high schools. Cheese is a mixture of heroin and either cold meds or sleep aids. It is dangerously addictive and cheap, which is why it is becoming especially popular with teenagers.
For more information about types of drugs, visit the Foundation for a Drug-Free World
What we do
Just Say YES provides drug and alcohol abuse programs that not only present the dangerous facts, but take one step further to equip students to make better decisions and avoid teen drug use. Our positive approach to prevention gives students the inspiration and confidence to pursue their future without the damaging effects of drugs, tobacco, alcohol and/or other substances. Just Say YES speakers connect with students through their own personal stories of overcoming obstacles such as poverty, homelessness, gangs, drugs and fatherlessness in their lives. Contact us to have a Program Coordinator work with you to schedule a drug and alcohol program for your school.