Many adult addictions begin during the teenage years. While some individuals may attribute this fact to the desire of teens to experiment with drugs or test the boundaries of authority, it may have more to do with the chemical makeup of adolescent brains and the way in which it encourages substance abuse. Only by spreading awareness of why teens can fall victim to addiction can parents, friends, and other loved ones help them avoid the pitfalls of chemical dependency that may extend into adulthood.
Vulnerability to Mental Illness
Many teens must contend with a long list of stress factors, including academic performance, social standing, appearance, and home life. Studies indicate that teenagers may feel more acutely the effects of anxiety than adults. As an escape from their worries, some teens may turn to drugs. For instance, stimulants might help them feel in control of their studies at school. Opioids may provide them with the chance to forget about conflicts with friends or family members.
Response to Reward
New research might offer insight as to why teens can take to addiction more strongly and quickly than adults. Studies have found that when an adolescent brain is given a drug, it perceives it as a reward more strongly than that of an adult brain. This response to a pleasure-inducing substance can increase the frequency with which teens want to indulge in drugs in the future.
Propensity to Habit Formation
If a given behavior results in a positive physical or emotional response, it can rapidly turn into a repeated activity that is difficult to stop. That is why habit formation can become a significant challenge for teens who become addicted to drugs. This aspect of teen substance abuse may explain why adults who start their drug habits during their teenage years can have a more arduous time freeing themselves of their addiction.
No matter the circumstances surrounding your addiction, Las Encinas Hospital can help you break it. Our chemical dependency treatment center can provide you with the tools you need to stop the cycle of substance abuse. To set up an appointment with an addiction counselor at our Pasadena facility, call (888) 348-2165.