Our culture is dominated by myths and misconceptions about drug use. Most people are frightened or hesitant to even approach the subject. Drug and alcohol abuse is an ever-increasing issue in our society today. More than ever, it is imperative that people educate themselves about the dangers associated with drug and alcohol abuse. Addiction is multifaceted and complex disease that must be talked about. This is especially true for parents. Teens rarely enter addiction treatment programs voluntarily. It is up to parents to educated themselves about teen drug addiction and learn ways to both identify and address substance abuse issues. Here are 5 surprising facts about drugs and addiction that are relevant in today’s society.
1. Prescription Drug Abuse Is a Bigger Issue Than Any Other Drug
There is a common misconception that prescription medications are safer than other illicit drugs. This is false. Prescription drug abuse is the leading cause of drug overdoses in the United States. The number of people abusing prescription drugs is more than the combined number of people who reported abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants. Up until now, the leading cause of accidental deaths among teens was due to fatal traffic accidents. Today, deaths from prescription drug abuse outnumber deaths from traffic accidents for young adults in the U.S. It is imperative that people no longer view prescription medication as being safer than other illicit drugs. This misconception is one of the reasons teens feel safer abusing prescription drugs over other illicit drug. Overprescribing is a serious issue for both teens and adults in the U.S. Teens and adults are able to gain easy access to a variety of prescription drugs both legally and illegally. The three most commonly abused prescription medications are pain medications, anti-anxiety medications and stimulant medications. Teens and adults are able to gain access to these drugs through their primary physician and through a variety of illicit channels. In order to effectively address the prescription drug abuse issue, people must continually educate themselves about the dangers associated with prescription drug abuse.
2. Marijuana Legalization Isn’t Going as Well as You May Think
There have been a lot of claims and misconceptions about marijuana legalization. The impact of whether or not marijuana legalization is a good thing depends upon whom you ask. Some say that marijuana legalization helps the economy and brings about more job opportunities. Others say that it puts kids at risks and contributes to more crime. Marijuana has been legal in Colorado for two years. Individuals who have been deemed experts on marijuana legalization and its consequences admit to not being able to conclusively determine whether the legalization has produced more benefits than consequences. Most news reports highlight only the benefits of marijuana legalization. While there have been benefits, have also been some issues that have arisen since marijuana was legalized in Colorado. Police enforcement in Colorado have been faced with new challenges. They have had difficulty identifying drugged drivers and have had difficulty keeping the legal marijuana from leaving state lines. One of the major concerns is how easily kids may be able to access the drug. Colorado has also seen in increase in crime rates but law enforcement officials have been unable to determine if it is in part due to the legalization of marijuana. Marijuana legalization is a controversial topic. There are both benefits and consequences associated with the legalization. Regardless of your position on the matter, when something becomes the law it is up to us to stay informed and learn how to navigate the legalization of marijuana.
3. Marijuana Use Among Teens Has Been Linked to Early Death in Adulthood
A new study has found that smoking marijuana heavily during the teenage years may lead to an early death. The study analyzed over 45,000 men who were engaged in military training in Sweden during the years 1969 and 1970. The study was conducted over 42 years. The study found that men who heavily used marijuana during their late teenage years were 40 percent more likely to die by the age of 60 than those who never used marijuana. The study defined heavy use as teens that used marijuana more than 50 times. The study highlighted factors that contributed to the early death seen in adults who used marijuana heavily during their teenage years:
- Risk of death from suicide or accident was significantly correlated with the level of marijuana use during the teenage years
- Marijuana users generally had poorer health than those who didn’t use marijuana.
- Heavy marijuana use was linked to lung cancer and heart problems.
- Heavy marijuana users generally had poorer diets and were often tobacco smokers.
- Heavy marijuana use during the teenage years is linked to poor psychological and cognitive problems during adulthood.
4. The Major Concern Regarding Addiction Isn’t What Drug is Being Used but Why
It isn’t uncommon for most people to pay particular attention to what drug is being abused rather than why. The misconceptions and perceived danger surrounding particular drugs distracts from the real problem. The concern regarding addiction isn’t what drug is being used but why. When someone is suffering from substance abuse issues, it is imperative that the underlying issues that contributed to the substance abuse are identified and addressed. For most addicts, there are identifiable factors that led them to pick up a drink or a drug in the first place. Depression, anxiety, peer pressure, low self-esteem, genetics, environmental factors, and problems at home are just some problems that addicts may be struggling with. Most addicts use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. They self-medicate in an attempt to experience relief from issues they are struggling with. When a drug-addicted individual enters an addiction treatment program, the main focus is on the underlying issues that contributed to the substance abuse. Unless these issues are identified and addressed, there is little hope for long-term recovery.
5. 90% of Drug-Addicted Teens Never Receive Treatment
The developing adolescent brain leaves teens with substance abuse issues extremely vulnerable. Addiction affects brain development and normal brain maturation in teens. These developmental issues can lead to lifelong consequences. That is why it is imperative that teens struggling with substance abuse issues receive the help they so desperately need. Unfortunately, 90 percent of drug-addicted teens never receive addiction treatment. Addressing teen drug abuse is a critical matter. When teens receive addiction treatment at the first sign of trouble, they have a significantly higher chance at recovery and overall better health.