Why are Teens More Vulnerable to Addiction?

Why are Teens More Vulnerable to Addiction?

Teens have been found to be vulnerable to addiction when they start experimenting with drugs, and rates have been rising over the years. Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are the substances that are most commonly used by young adults. Unfortunately, there are some risks of substance use that are unique to teens and young adults. For example, drug use can affect their growth and development, especially with the brain, frequently occurs with other risky behaviors, and can contribute to other health problems in their adult life such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders. 

What Causes Addiction?

The development of an addiction first starts in the brain. It starts with a neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which is a chemical in the brain that causes us to feel happiness. Typically daily activities that can release this neurotransmitter include things like eating your favorite dessert, seeing a family member, or doing a hobby that you enjoy. When drugs are ingested, an excessive amount of dopamine is released in the brain, causing a more intense form of happiness known as euphoria, which is known as the “high” that drugs cause. Because this high is very pleasurable and much more intense than typical daily activities can achieve, individuals will often continue using drugs to chase that high. This behavior leads to addiction and dependence on drugs. 

How is Teen Addiction Different?

Teen addiction is slightly different because they are often used for different reasons that adults report for using substances. For example, teens are highly influenced by their peers and may be more inclined to give in to peer pressure to use substances and “fit in.” Some teens also have difficult home lives that they are trying to cope with that are mostly out of their control until they are old enough to move out on their own. Additionally, teens are often not equipped with the tools to cope with peer pressure and other life stressors in the way that adults are, so they may be more likely to turn to drugs to cope if they are exposed to them. 

Why are Teens More Vulnerable to Addiction?

Teens have been found to be more vulnerable to developing an addiction if they start experimenting with drugs at this age. Some reasons for why they are more vulnerable to addiction include:

  • Teens do not experience withdrawals as intensely as adults do. Therefore, this is not something that may deter them from using the substance. 
  • Teens’ brains are more focused on the reward they get from the dopamine release than they are about the negative effects of drugs. Therefore, using reasoning skills is difficult for them because their brains are biased. 
  • Their frontal lobe is still developing. The frontal lobe is what is used when reasoning skills are being used and developed. In addition to their brains being more focused on the reward they get from dopamine, they are also not equipped to weigh the pros and cons of experimenting or mixing drugs, to begin with. 

How to Find Teen Drug and Alcohol Rehab

It can be challenging to try to help your child with their addiction. It’s tough when they are not ready for treatment. However, talking with them, going over their options, and letting them know that you will always be there for support can be helpful. Once they are ready for treatment, it’s important to point them in the right direction of trusted mental health professionals that are trained in substance use. The Last House can help. 

The Last House has been around for over ten years to help men strive to achieve sobriety in their life. We offer a supportive environment with skilled staff whose passion is to help those with addiction concerns and services that promote building skills to maintain a sober lifestyle. Our program includes groups, therapy, accountability, and exploring sober activities. When you leave The Last House, you will leave with long-lasting connections and the skills you need to continue your sobriety long-term. The Last House is connected with Thrive Treatment to easily contact quality treatment teams to ensure the care you are getting is consistent. 
Contact us today to learn more about our program and how we can help you.

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