Teen and Drugs: The Most Commonly Abused Drugs


Teenage addiction is a complex problem. Substance abuse is one of the common problems faced by teenagers in the United States. Teenagers abuse both legal and illicit drugs. Many teens abuse drugs, because they see others doing it and want to experiment with it. The abused drugs interact with the brain producing high feelings called “euphoria”. Hence teens abuse drugs to get this pleasant feeling.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), alcohol and tobacco are the most commonly abused drug followed by marijuana. This substance abuse differs between the age group of teens. Young adolescents tend to abuse inhalant substances including glues, paint thinners, and dry cleaning fluids.

Whereas older teens abuse synthetic marijuana and prescription medicines. If you have a teen grappling with addiction, this article will walk you through the essential pieces of information you need to understand teen addiction and the most commonly abused drugs.

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What factors contribute to teenage addiction?

There are certain factors that increase the risk of teenage addiction. Firstly, a teen with a history of sexual or physical abuse is more likely to suffer from addiction. Certain issues like mental disorders, low self-esteem, having problems at school & home, genetic vulnerability, prenatal exposure to drugs, lack of parental care, and relationship with drug-using peers are the factors contributing to teen addiction.

Stressful life and trauma are important risk factors for teenage addiction. Here you can find out drug rehab in New York around you based on reviews and ratings.

How do you know your teen is abusing drugs?

Parents or the caretaker should scrutinize your teen for any addiction behaviors. The tell-tale signs of addiction are

1. Changes in physical appearance

 This includes red eyes, pupil dilation, unpleasant body odor, and lack of personal hygiene.

2. Changes in physical health

Weight loss or weight gain, vomiting, nausea, sweating, seizures, and stammered speech.

3. Changes in behavior

Teens with drug abuse are anxious, depressed, isolated and poor academic performance.

4. Changes in the home

 You notice cash missing from your wallet and prescription drugs missing from your medical kit. An abnormal smell in your teen’s bedroom.

For a better understanding of teen drug addiction, here is a list of the most commonly abused drugs.

Most commonly abused drugs by teens

1. Alcohol

No surprise that alcohol comes first in the list and is legally available. Many teens aged 13- 19 have consumed alcohol at some point in their lives. Alcohol addiction is very common among teens as it is readily available at home and linked with having parties & fun. What does alcohol do to your body? As a result, teenagers start to binge drink. The intoxicating effects reach the brain in as little as ten minutes and professional treatment is required for recovery.

2. Marijuana

The next most abused substances among American teens is marijuana. 50% of the high school senior teens abuse marijuana and is steadily increasing.

Marijuana is often smoked by teens, releasing the psychoactive chemical in the brain, which binds with the neurotransmitters resulting in ultimate pleasure.  Long-term use of this drug causes diminished memory, impaired cognitive skills, and respiratory problems.

3. OTC and prescription drugs

Over the counter and prescription, drugs are commonly abused by teens as they are easily accessible. Most of the prescription drugs are obtained from the parent’s medical it.

Prescription drugs- Opioids(oxycontin or codeine),  Depressants(valium or Xanax) and Stimulants(Adderall and Ritalin) are abused by taking them orally or by crushing, snorting and injecting them.  Prescription narcotics are mixed with alcohol for intense feelings and pleasure.

4. Tobacco

Tobacco is legal and teens less than 18 years of age are abusing tobacco products. Smoking cigarettes are very common among high school students.

Tobacco contains nicotine which causes addiction, teens abusing tobacco at a very young age are more likely to die prematurely from a smoking-related disease. Students facing depression and anxiety disorders are more likely to abuse tobacco products.

5. Inhalants

The class of drugs known as inhalants is very commonly abused among teens. They inhale gasoline, nail polish remover, permanent markers, aerosol sprays, and paints. Inhalants will trigger dizziness, confusion and high feeling. Long-term use of inhalants leads to a lack of oxygen to the brain, which can be fatal.

Breaking teen addiction- My experience

Breaking a teen addiction could be a daunting task. It depends upon the teen’s mentality and severity of the addiction. As a counselor in my church, I have people approaching me for coping with grief, relationship problems, work issues, and marriage problems.

A young teen boy approached me for counsel addressing his addiction problem. He was hesitant to reveal what sort of substance he abused. After experiencing the negative impacts of the drug, he decided to get addiction treatment. He was recommended to join an outpatient rehabilitation center and with proper treatments, he is sober now.

Teen addiction should be identified and addressed as soon as possible. As a counselor, I follow the 12 step programs as originally proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous.

The twelve steps contain the guiding principles to achieve recovery from addiction. It urges every individual to believe the higher power and surrender his/her life to him to achieve sobriety. Regular intervention and annual medical checkups are important to keep your teen stay away from substance use.

Behavioral therapies are shown to be effective in treating teenage addiction. Above all, the parents should monitor their teens and help them in each and every step towards the recovery journey. Recently visited timberline knolls and it is the best residential treatment center for all treatment programs.

Teen addiction recovery is possible?

Teen addiction recovery can sometimes be heartbreaking as your teen may struggle with several relapses. A relapse doesn’t mean failure and you should never disappoint your teen on his road towards recovery. Relapse is very common among young teens as they need a mentor to guide them.

Teaching young teens to do the right things and let go of negative experiences of life will work wonders. It is imperative to join your teen in group therapy, where various addicts share their knowledge and experience in breaking the addiction.

The success stories will not only inspire but will provide the necessary insight and resources to overcome addictions. There is definitely a glimmer of hope for those grappling with addiction.


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