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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