What You Should Know about Substance Abuse and Addiction in Adolescents

Drug and alcohol abuse at any age can have a variety of negative health effects. For adolescent users, however, the effects can be more severe and possibly longer term. Studies have shown that it is possible the human brain is not developed until around the early to mid-twenties. As a result, any drug use before this time can have developmental effects in addition to the common risks associated with drug abuse. If you suspect an adolescent in your life is abusing drugs or alcohol, it can be imperative to seek treatment, such as from Palm Beach Institute Adolescent Drug Rehab Center, as soon as possible.


How Addiction Works

With most of the controlled substances people use, the draw is in how the drug makes them feel. Chemicals within the substance alter how you perceive your emotions and surroundings by affecting chemicals within the brain. One such chemical is dopamine, which is responsible for providing feelings of happiness and euphoria. Many drugs will either affect the body’s ability to produce or receive the chemical, causing an increase in the euphoric feeling while the effects last. Unfortunately, over time the body will respond to this increase, whether by reducing the number of dopamine receptors or the amount of dopamine produced by the body. As a result, the person must increase the amount of the substance they are using to achieve the desired effect as their tolerance has increased. They may also find that normal situations that would normally cause a release of dopamine naturally, such as winning a game or receiving a good test score, are no longer as satisfying. This is how dependency upon the substance forms, along with fear of withdrawals. In general, it has been found that the younger a person is when they begin substance abuse, the greater risk they have of becoming addicted and for having a relapse later.

Other Negative Effects

Continued drug use can also present a number of serious, possibly long-term effects. In teens, these can include short- and long-term memory problems, brain shrinkage, impaired learning abilities, and impaired reasoning. There may come a time when an adolescent decides to attempt quitting the substance they have become dependent upon. This, however, can prove to be difficult, and even dangerous. Many people may experience some form of withdrawal symptoms. Possible symptoms include tremors, nausea, anxiety, depression, sweating, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. In serious cases, stroke, heart attack, seizures, hallucinations, or delirium tremens may occur. That is why obtaining treatment from a center specializing in drug rehabilitation, such as the Palm Beach Institute Adolescent Drug Rehab center can be important, as most facilities will have experience in dealing with withdrawal symptoms safely.

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Useful Information About Drug Detox for Various Substances

When somebody has an addiction, it means their body has built up a mental and physical dependence on the substance. Just like the human body needs water or air, the body of an addict also starts to need the substance to which they’re addicted. This is one reason why it may be necessary to perform drug detox in a medical setting. Continue reading for more information.

Alcohol Detoxification

If someone has been drinking large amounts of alcohol for long periods of time, the need for medical assistance is dire. An alcoholic can suffer withdrawals in the form of hallucinations, seizures, lethal dehydration, stroke, or heart attack, to name a few risks. These symptoms can manifest themselves within hours or days of the cessation of drinking. To treat this medically, certain prescriptions are often used, such as Valium, Ativan, and Serax. These can help to reduce anxiety, shakiness, and other withdrawal symptoms. Anti-psychotics, blood pressure medications, and anticonvulsants may also be used.

Painkiller Detoxification

The problem with addictions to painkillers or other prescription drugs is that a change has occurred in the brain. Recovering from this addiction is a long-term process. Since these drugs affect all the systems in the body, withdrawal can be deadly. It can include body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, and more. It can last hours, days, or weeks, depending on the addict. Certain medications used to treat this addiction include Methadone, Suboxone, and Subutex. These can activate opioid receptors but will not create a high, so that the addict can be slowly weaned off the drugs.

Methamphetamine Detoxification

Probably one of the most extreme substances people use is methamphetamine. This also has the most extreme repercussions when attempting to detox. Symptoms of using the drug include paranoia, psychosis, sleep deprivation, and more. It is for these reasons and more that the drug detox be conducted in a medical setting by professionals. Treatment for this should include the induction of several nights of sleep, intense patience with the agitated recovering addict, psychological care, and medical and dental care. Inpatient treatment to prevent relapse by teaching management skills and providing counseling are vital to meth addicts’ success.


*This is a guest post provided to LIFE AS A WAHM for its readers.

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