As children leave junior school and head to high school, they have to deal with a lot of changes in their lives. It is at this time that their bodies are changing, and they have to content with a surge of hormones that can affect them both physically and emotionally.
Adolescence is the time when children become teenagers, and many will begin to experiment with their bodies and engage in what may be classed as risky behaviour. Teenagers can often be quite impulsive, and it is at this time in their lives when they may become curious about various substances such as alcohol or drugs.
The good news for parents is that for most teenagers who experiment with chemical substances, there are no significant adverse consequences. Unfortunately, for some teens, substance abuse can lead to a host of unwanted physical and mental problems.
How Substance Abuse Can Affect the Teenage Brain
The adolescent brain is still developing, and abusing alcohol or drugs can have a negative effect. Teenagers who abuse these substances can suffer from memory problems, lack of concentration, and problems with their motor and coping skills. Sadly, developing of nerves in the brain during adolescence can be damaged, which can be irreparable.
It is also worth noting that teenagers are more inclined to engage in risky behaviour at this time, regardless of whether they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Adding these substances to the mix can result in lowered inhibitions and can put teenagers in dangerous situations. Teens who are intoxicated may be more likely to engage in unsafe sex or drive a car, and both of these decisions could have long-term negative consequences.
Substance Abuse and Relationships
Substance abuse can have an adverse effect on relationships with family members and friends no matter what age a person is. However, teenagers who abuse alcohol could find themselves in trouble with the police, which could in turn lead to problems at home and at school.
Friends and family members are affected when one person abuses a substance. Family members will be hurt and upset when a teenager continuously abuses alcohol or drugs. It can lead to strained relationships and constant conflict in the home. Friends may not want to be around a person who is always drunk and acting in an inappropriate manner. Parents often suffer feelings of guilt and shame if a teenage child succumbs to substance abuse. They will believe they have failed as parents, which can result in marriage breakdowns.
There may also be a knock-on effect on family life if the teenager’s substance abuse problems lead to financial difficulties. Siblings may have to miss out on certain things so that the parents can pay for treatment for their addicted loved one. Many parents will find themselves struggling with mounting debt that will put immense strain on their relationship and mental health.
The Effect of Substance Abuse on Sexual Health
It is natural for adolescents to begin experimenting sexually, both with other people and with their own bodies. However, those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol may lose all inhibitions and find themselves in potentially dangerous situations.
Engaging in sexual activity while under the influence of substances may result in sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies.
Various sexually transmitted diseases can lead to infertility and sexual dysfunction, which can have long-term effects on the sexual health of those affected.
The Danger of Addiction
Another common issue facing teenagers who abuse drugs and alcohol is the risk of addiction. The younger a person begins experimenting with these substances, the greater the risk. Those affected will build up a tolerance to the substance they are abusing and, if they continue to abuse drugs or alcohol, they will become dependent and will suffer withdrawal symptoms should they attempt to quit or cut down. They will then need professional help to overcome this illness.