The Role Of Substance Abuse In Adolescents

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Today, adolescents face a tremendous amount of challenges and stress on the road to adulthood. Studies have shown that puberty may start earlier. The media influence has a wider reach. Most U.S. homes have access to the internet (72% of children have access to a computer at home) (Conrad, B., 2016) and/or have some form of game system (67% of children own a game system and 24% own a portable video game system) (Conrad, B., 2016). Plus, youth are spending less time playing outside or exercising (10% of children live in a home in which the television is left on all the time (29% live in a home where a TV is on “most” of the time) (Conrad, B., 2016).
Furthermore, parents have less time to spend with their kids due to work. The majority of homes
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Adolescence can in itself be a traumatic time. Their body is going through “biological, psychological, and social role changes more than any other stage of development” (Cole, R., at. al., 2011).Even though adolescence is a time for experimenting and exploring new things, however, a lack of maturity may lead to substance abuse. The amygdala is the emotional center of the brain which aids in responding to the world around us. While this part of the brain matures early, the frontal lobe or the executive function area is slower to mature (Dolgin, K. & Rice, P., 2011).This can cause problems in higher order thinking, such as, planning or impulse control. With drug usage the brain can have delays in functioning properly which can lead to higher emotional responses. The earlier the age a child stats to abuse substances the more prevalent a child will be a substance abuser or even an addict later as an adult (Cole, R., at. al., 2011). Interruption or delay in developmental sequences can lead to “mental health issues including substance abuse” (Cole, R., at. al., 2011).
Unfortunately, all drugs have the potential for drug abuse. Two factors result in drug abuse: 1. using drugs puts someone at a significant risk for consequences. 2. Taking drugs interferes with normal, daily responsibilities and accomplishments. Drug abuse as opposed to drug use is where a person is at the point where a drug or drugs hurts a person.
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Low self-esteem, negative parent/child relationships, divorce, even if remarried, lower socioeconomic status, youth with care givers who have a history of substance abuse problems, physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse are all linked as risk factors in drug abuse. These problems can produce personality problems which can lead to drug use. Teens may become accustomed to relying on drugs to solve problems which can escalate to drug dependence (Burton, S., 2015). Genetic vulnerability has been shown in studies to be a factor from 25% to 60% depending on the study. Adolescents with a history of sexual assault are 2.6% more likely to report drug abuse of harder substances than those who have not had the same trauma. Sexual trauma in childhood can inhibit cognitive and social development which is more likely to lead to substance abuse. (Cole, R., at. al.,

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