Adolescence and Substance Abuse or Addiction

Topics: Drug addiction, Adolescence, Addiction Pages: 7 (1207 words) Published: April 28, 2014
Running head: ADOLESCENCE


Adolescence and Substance Abuse or Addiction
Christina Ayres
Liberty University

Running head: ADOLESCENCE


Adolescence and Substance Abuse or Addiction
Adolescents, or teenagers, use drugs (prescription and illegal) and alcohol for many of the same reasons as adults. Most notably, the pleasure or euphoric feeling associated with use and as an escape from the stress and pressure of a situation or of life in general. Many students have even started using prescription drugs, such as Adderall and Ritalin. This paper will discuss the relationship between substance abuse or addiction and teenagers, and the affects this causes on their developing brain. In addition, information will be provided concerning how a healthy spiritual development can affect the likelihood of teen use, abuse, or addiction to drugs and alcohol. Finally, the national and local prevalence of adolescent addiction, and news coverage of adolescents and drug-related incidents in Knoxville, TN will be examined. Adolescent Substance Abuse and Addiction

Alcohol seems to be the initial exposure to abuse and addiction among teenagers, particularly due to the fact that it is legal and more readily available than other substances. The Adolescent Health Facts (2012), which stated that 20% of high school students drank alcohol for the first time before the age of 13 in 2011. Furthermore, 40% of teens who drank, obtained alcohol through someone giving it to them. According to Feldman (2014), drinking, over a period of time, can lead to tolerance and diminished positive effects associated with consumption, which in turn leads to an increase in quantity of alcohol consumption in order to achieve those positive effects. Whether adolescents drink throughout the day or in binges, alcohol use becomes habitual for some teens and can lead to physical and psychological

Running head: ADOLESCENCE


addiction when the habit cannot be controlled. According to Toor (2014), the majority of people, when asked, would state that marijuana is the gateway drug. Although, through his research, he found that “…teens who abused alcohol are twice as likely to abuse prescription opiate drugs, than those who only used marijuana”.

legal and illegal drugs.
The use of legal and illegal drugs is increasingly problematic in adolescence. According to Feldman (2014), drug use and abuse among teenagers has become quite common, for instance “…one in 15 high school seniors smokes marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis”. The Adolescent Health Facts (2012) stated that in 2011, 40% of high school teens had used marijuana one or more times in their lives. In addition, from 2009 to 2010, 6% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 had used pain reliever for nonmedical reasons. Factors related to adolescent drug use include the use of drugs by celebrities and famous “role models” and peer pressure, but the newest reason for drug use is to enhance academic achievements (Feldman, 2014). Students are using prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin to increase focus and ability to study while enabling them to do so for long periods of time. Unfortunately, most legal and illegal drugs teenagers are using are highly addictive and can result in biological and psychological dependence (Feldman, 2014).

Affects the Developing Brain of Adolescent
Biological addiction to drugs causes physical, and possibly lasting, changes in the nervous system (Feldman, 2014). Uppers, such as amphetamines and cocaine, stimulate the central nervous system causing an increase in the chemical and electrical activity in the brain (Martin, 2014). The desired effects of these drugs is a product of the release of neurotransmitter called norepinephrine and epinephrine. The depletion and imbalance of theses neurotransmitters

Running head: ADOLESCENCE


cause both physical and psychological problems. Downers, such as painkillers, sedatives, and alcohol, slow down the...

References: Feldman, R. S. (2014). Development across the life span (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River,
NJ: Pearson Education.
Lakin, M. (2011, November 1). Generation oxy: Pills attract, addict teens. Knoxnews,com.
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