Every day more and more American kids engage in the destructive behavior of trying to self-medicate their physical, emotional or mental scars with drugs or alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, two-thirds of all people in treatment for drug abuse reported that they had been emotionally, physically or sexually abused during their childhood. No matter how many immediate family members teens have, or who their main source of support comes from, the people that comprise the household they grow up in, as well as the community that surrounds them, all have an incredible role in how they are raised.
Physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse are very common occurrences on both a national and global level. The damage caused by these events often bring individuals to self-medication through drugs or alcohol which can start at a young age and have devastating effects throughout the rest of their life. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, twenty-five percent of those who began abusing prescription drugs at age 13 or younger met clinical criteria for drug abuse at some point in their lives. Oftentimes, if a child or teen doesn’t have the proper support system, the idea of self-medicating the problem with drugs and alcohol can become a viable consideration.
influences such as peer pressure in school, the media, videogames and movies all have been known to glorify drugs and alcohol. In the U.S., the billboards and commercials kids and teens are exposed to can seem like a never ending solicitation to become a partying socialite. Rehab shows on television, many of which focus on the struggles of Hollywood actors and actresses going into rehab, have also glamorized this destructive lifestyle. All these portrayals of the “party life” in America could seem intriguing and cool to teenagers suffering from abuse at home and could see it as a way to escape the struggles they are facing in their daily lives.
The following is a sample from a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse 2015 that breaks down the percentage of usage among high school seniors in America.
“After marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the past-year use of commonly abused drugs among high school seniors. Data for past-year use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines include the following: Vicodin (8 percent), Adderall (6.5 percent), Salvia (5.9 percent), Tranquilizers (5.6 percent), Cough Medicine (5.3 percent), OxyContin (4.9 percent), Sedatives (4.3 percent), and Ritalin (2.6 percent), a combined total of 37.2 percent. Data for past-year use of illicit drugs includes the following: Marijuana/Hashish (36.4 percent), Synthetic Marijuana (11.4 percent), Salvia (5.9 percent), MDMA (Ecstasy 5.3 percent), Hallucinogens (5.2 percent), Inhalants (3.2 percent) and Cocaine (any form, 2.9 percent).”
Many times teens don’t know who to turn to or what to do about a possible problem with drugs or alcohol. It’s important for a teenager to know that there are resources available to them when they have a problem such as an addiction or family abuse. There are hotlines that a teen can call to get anonymous and free expert advice on how to handle their particular issue. Twelve Step programs are also an alternative for many teens, some are even held at schools during lunch breaks. Therapy is always available for any teen that has a problem with drugs or alcohol and there are also many treatment centers and outpatient options for teens addicted to drugs and alcohol as well as for those who have suffered emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
Going through the turmoil of one’s teenage years is already a struggle and abuse or addiction does little to help. That is why it is vital that teens know they are not alone and that they can find help when they need it. KNowing where to get help for addiction can often mean the difference between life and death.