Mental Illness and The Development of Harmful Addictions
Drugs and alcohol do not discriminate. They are a vice that can affect any individual, at any age, from any demographic. That said, teens are especially at risk of abusing harmful substances.
Like adults, certain teens are at higher risk of developing an addiction. While it's impossible to judge whether a teenager will become addicted to any single substance, several risk factors increase their chance of developing said destructive habits. What's more, the teenage demographic has more inherent risk factors than any other age group.
As to why teens are acutely more vulnerable to drug and alcohol addiction, several factors are considered.
Teenage Years Are a Stressful, Confusing Time
The teenage years are inherently turbulent and even terrifying at times. For instance, teenagers are at the age when mental illness' symptoms typically first appear.
Unfortunately for teens developing mental illness, their frontal lobe, in charge of critical thinking and impulse control, is not fully developed - which further complicates an already chemically complicated situation.
For some, the development of a mental disorder is too much for their developing brain to handle. For these teens, it is common to turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medication, an easy escape from their inner turmoil for which they are unprepared and ill-equipped to handle by themselves.
Mentally ill teens who experience clinical depression or anxiety are perhaps the most vulnerable. Statistics show that half of the addicted adolescents in the U.S. have a co-occuring depression, anxiety, or bipolar-related mental illness.
Furthermore, parents of mentally ill teenage girls should seek immediate treatment for their highly at-risk daughter. Failure to do so can result in their child developing life-long addictions or other self-harming behaviors.
The Signs of Teenage Substance Abuse
Unfortunately for parents, identifying signs of addiction in a teenage girl is a challenging endeavor. For one thing, drug addiction is a progressive disease. The earlier a parent can spot drug usage, the more likely they will take proactive choices that will prevent their daughter from becoming a full-blown addict.
That said, early warning signs, when an adolescent is just beginning to develop dangerous using habits, are especially difficult to spot. Knowing what to look for makes it exponentially easier to spot subtle behavioral changes indicative of drug and alcohol experimentation.
One of the most effective warning signs to look out for includes gauging a teenage girl's passions, interests, and habits.
Teens experimenting with drugs and alcohol typically give themselves away by suddenly losing interest in things, people, and activities they would otherwise display affection and passion for.
Paying attention to their daughter's involvement in their specific interests is particularly effective as even casual drug and alcohol abuse will quickly become evident, even apparent if adequately observed.
The second most important thing to look out for is a teen's social circle. Teenage girls who experiment with harmful substances tend to hang around peers who share their drug-habit interests. If a teen happens to stop hanging around their standard social group and begin to favor a new, more unscrupulous group of friends, it could be a tell-tale sign of early experimentation.
The following is a list of other warning signs to look out for.
Behavioral signs of drug use or substance abuse include:
Avoiding eye contact - teens tend to avoid drawing attention to themselves by avoiding eye contact while abusing drugs.
Ignoring or breaking curfew - of course, the most popular time to abuse drugs is at night when others are asleep. Breaking curfew and sneaking out are common tell-tale signs of drug abuse and other negative behaviors.
Frequently asking for money/stealing - drugs cost money. Teens who have an escalating drug habit will have no choice but to develop increasingly illogical reasons for borrowing money. After they have exhausted this resource, they will typically resort to extreme measures such as stealing cash and other valuables whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Isolating from others/damaging relationships with family or friends - drug and alcohol addiction significantly changes the behaviors of those affected. Teens who are secretly abusing will almost certainly become uncharacteristically depressed, moody, on edge, and even hostile from time to time.
Withdrawing from classroom participation/slipping in grades - when a habit becomes an addiction, things that were once substantial fall to the wayside. This includes academic, athletic, and social interactions and interests that pale compared to their constantly demanding addictions.
If You Are a Parent Of an Experimenting or Addicted Teenage Girl, Clearview Girls Academy is Here to Help!
Clearview Girls Academy is a Christ-centered residential treatment center for teenage girls with self-destructive tendencies and underlying issues, such as drug addiction and mental health-related troubles.
Our therapists work with girls who are making increasingly problematic decisions due to emotional issues stemming from: major trauma or loss in their life, physical or mental abuse, death of a loved one, or attachment disorders related to adoption.
In addition to early intervention drug and alcohol treatment, we also specialize in treating eating disorders and self-harming.
For immediate assistance, please call us today at (888) 796 5484.