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Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse-From Cary and Crystal Lake, IL

Mar 14, 2008
People can get involved with alcohol and drug abuse in various ways. Unfortunately, experimentation with alcohol and drugs during adolescence is very common.
After all, teens often do not see the link between their actions today and the possibility of dire consequences tomorrow.

They also have a tendency to feel indestructible and invulnerable to the problems that adults experience. Using alcohol and tobacco at a young age increases the risk of using other drugs later. Some teens will simply experiment and stop or continue to use occasionally, without significant problems. Others, however, will develop a dependency,moving on to more dangerous mind-altering substances and causing significant harm to themselves and possibly others.

Adolescence is a time for trying new things. Teens use alcohol and mind-altering drugs for many reasons, including curiosity, mood enhancement, stress reduction, or to fit in. It is difficult to know which teens will experiment and stop and which will develop serious problems later on.

Teens at risk for developing serious alcohol and drug problems include those:

With a family history of substance abuse or family dysfunction,

Who display the symptoms of depression,

Who have seriously low self-esteem, and

Who feel like they do not fit in or are out of the mainstream.

Teenagers can abuse both legal and illegal drugs. Legally available drugs include alcohol, prescribed medicines, inhalants (fumes from glues, aerosols, and solvents) and over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep and even diet medications.

The most commonly used illegal drugs are marijuana (pot), stimulants, such as cocaine, crack and methamphetamine, LSD, PCP, opiates, heroin and Ecstasy. Unfortunately,the use of these illegal substances is increasing, especially among younger teens.

The average age of first marijuana use is 14, and alcohol use can start before age 12. The use of marijuana and alcohol in high school has become common. Drug use is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including increased risk of serious drug use later in life, school failure, and the use of poor judgment. Poor judgment can put your teen at risk for accidents, violence, unplanned and unsafe sex and suicide.

You can help through early education about drugs, openly communicating, good role modeling and early recognition if problems are developing. Warning signs that your teenager may be abusing alcohol or drugs may include:

Physical signs, such as, fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes and a persistent cough,

Marked personality changes, sudden mood shifts, chronic irritability, irresponsible behavior, poor judgment, depressive symptoms or a troubling lack of interest in others,

Starting arguments, breaking rules or withdrawing from the family,

Decreased interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, absences, truancy or disciplinary problems in school,

The bonding with friends who are not interested in typical home and school activities or those having problems with the law,

It can also be a warning sign if your teen changes to less conventional styles in dress and music.

Some of these warning signs can also be signs of other problems. An effective way for parents to show care and concern is to openly discuss the use and possible abuse of alcohol and mind-altering drugs with their teenagers.

Consulting your family physician to rule out any physical causes of the manifestation of any warning signs is a good first step. This should often be followed or accompanied by a comprehensive evaluation by a clinical psychologist or other mental health professional.
About the Author
Dr Shery is in Cary, IL, near Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Marengo and Lake-in-the-Hills. He's an expert psychologist. Call 1 847 516 0899 and make an appt orlearn more about counseling at: http://www.carypsychology.com
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