The Drug Class Blog

Apr 06

Emotional Growth

Thank you to Goeff Crain for the article

Emotional Development Risks With Adolescent Substance Use

Drug and alcohol abuse amongst adolescents is on the rise. Before they graduate high school, 70% of students will have tried alcohol while 50% will have used an illegal drug. Adolescents experiment with substance use for a variety of reasons:

  • Peer pressure
  • The community they grow up in
  • Family environment
  • Genetics

Adolescents who abuse drugs or alcohol will not be able to develop their emotions properly.

Brain Development Is Affected

During teenage years, the brain is still in development. The Prefrontal Cortex does not fully develop until a human's mid 20’s. This part of the brain is responsible for expression, decision making and executing social behavior. If an adolescent uses drugs and alcohol heavily, the development of this part of the brain will be altered. As a result, they will lack the emotional skills to truly express themselves and act responsibly in social settings. The decision-making process will be affected and they will understand the emotional impact of their actions. This can open up problems with friends and family. Impaired Memory Memory is a key factor in the learning process for all people. We rely on it for cognitive processing and emotional recognition. Our emotions rely on memory to motivate and execute positive behavioral choices. Adolescents who overuse substances can permanently alter their memory. Therefore, altering their drive to succeed and exposing them to poor life choices.

Mental Health Problems

Substance use alters the development of an adolescent's emotional state and they are more prone to mental health problems. Examples of mental health problems amongst adolescent substance abusers are:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations

Adolescents who struggle with anxiety often turn to substances as a coping mechanism to help them feel more comfortable in social situations. As a result, anxiety and substance abuse feed into each other, and one condition makes the other worse. Many adolescents cope with depression in the same way. Although depression can develop after the onset of substance abuse. Feelings of sadness, low energy and hopelessness manifest when the person is not using. For more information on the links between substance abuse and mental health click here.

Family Environment

Aspects in family life that influence the development of substance abuse are:

  • Parents who are depressed
  • Mothers and fathers who have psychological problems
  • Drug addicted parents
  • A family with conflict, violence, and aggression
  • Parents with severe drinking problems

This family environment creates a culture with poor parental monitoring, a lack of discipline and next to no supervision. As a result, adolescents in these families turn to troubling social circles and struggle with academics.

Substance Abuse Alters Mood

A general symptom of drug abuse is a change in attitude. These changes will affect the relationship with family members. Parents raise their children to carry themselves in a certain way and adhere to set guidelines. Adolescents who use substances may experience feelings of depression, lethargy, and agitation. These feelings lead to negative emotions that tend to make them rebel against their parents. As a result, the emotional relationships with family members will be transformed. If you feel your teenager is struggling with addiction, treatment should be considered. You can call addiction help today for a free consultation.

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