The use, as well as abuse of both alcohol and drugs by teens is a common thing that ought to be resolved faster. The rate at which they use and abuse drugs and alcohol is alarming. This behavior has caused serious consequences. It is claimed that 50% of deaths caused by individuals between 15-24 age bracket are due to drug or alcohol abuse. These deaths are from suicides, homicides and accidents. It is also well-known that alcohol, and drug use/abuse has greatly contributed to sexual and physical aggression like rape or assault.
Regardless of age, the possible stages of experience with drugs or alcohol are; non-use (abstinence), experimentation, habitual use, abuse, and addiction. Regular recreational use of drugs and alcohol is linked to other problems such as depression and anxiety. It is well-known that many people consume alcohol and/or drugs to compensate for the lack of positive social talents, anxiety, and depression.
It is advised not to minimize the use of alcohol or drugs because there is a chance that these substances may lead to the use of other drugs such as inhalants, heroin, hallucinogens or cocaine. In teenage, risk taking behavior, social pressure and curiosity may make then fall into their use quickly. So, many teens will question, what if I try? So and so is looking healthy and he is using them, therefore, can it really hurt me?
Coming from a family with a history of drug or alcohol abuse as well as lack of pro-social talents may make one move rapidly from one stage of alcohol and drug abuse to the other rapidly. This is when compared with one from a family with no such habits.
Youth and alcohol abuse
Number of youth, especially adolescent is abusing alcohol each day. Adolescents abuse substance because of the following different reasons:
Fitting in – many teens lack confidence and they find drinking alcohol or taking drugs will give them what they want so that they can be like their peers. They are determined to do anything as long as they will be accepted.
Experimenting – the advertisements of alcohol on social media make them want to try out. They think that by drinking, they can make more friends. However, they can fall into addiction easily as this may not stop after the first drinking.
Escaping reality – teens as adults also experience stress and they may fall to drinking as a solution.
A clear understanding of addiction
Addiction or dependence is a persistent, relapsing brain disease which is characterized by a psychological and physical dependence on alcohol, behavior or drugs. When a person is addicted, it becomes very difficult for him or her to quit voluntarily. Also, it may lead to a person pursuing his or her toxic behavior regardless of harming themselves or even putting others in danger.
Addiction affects how one acts, feels or thinks. Those with addiction disorder may be aware of the problem, but can’t find a way out of this cage. It is very risky to try alcohol or drug because this might be the start of repeated use and eventually, lead to addiction. If you consume a drug or alcohol repeatedly for a long period, you begin to build tolerance. Therefore, you will be using large amounts of the substance to realize the desired effects as compared to when you started using it.
Prolonged use of a substance may result in a perilous cycle of addiction. This is where you need to use the substance on a continuous basis so that you can avoid uncomfortable signs of withdrawal. In the end, alcohol or drug will take control. Did you or do you plan becoming an addict? Definitely no. there is no one who desires to be an addict and therefore, take control while you still can and avoid falling into the trap of curiosity, peer pressure or other causes.
Dependency and the brain
Alcohol and drugs abuse are associated to cause many health problems. They can lead to failure of organs such as the heart, lungs, and kidney. However, the organ that is most affected by substance abuse is your brain. When you consume a substance, your brain will be stimulated to produce more amounts of dopamine. Thus, it will be very difficult for you to find pleasure in the things you used to enjoy. You will no longer value or enjoy spending time with family or friends, but only when you are under alcohol or drug use.
Symptoms of addiction
Some of the symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse can go unnoticed. This is so when you hide your drug or alcohol problem. However, you can discover some early enough to seek assistance. The negative associations and stigma are the main reasons why people with alcohol or drug issues deny having a problem. Therefore, this makes it very difficult for a friend or family from finding a solution for their loved one.
Earl warnings should be treated as soon as possible rather than seeking for help later. Some of the symptoms of drugs and alcohol abuse are as follows:
- Drinking alone or hiding when using the substance.
- Changing how you look as well as changing the group of friends you go out with.
- Isolating yourself from family members or close friends.
- Making some excuses for drinking like to deal with a situation, stress or relax.
- Extreme mood swings or feeling irritated when asked about your use of drugs or alcohol.
- The experience of memory loss (short-term) or temporary blackouts.
- Having a hungover when you are not drinking.
- Having guilt when you use the substance.
Diagnosing an addiction
Addiction identification is like other diagnoses of illnesses. The affected patient is examined for signs meeting certain, scientific criteria and defining the said illness in question. the criteria normally include the following:
- Lack of control – this is where alcohol or drugs are used for a long period than the time the individual intended to use in the first place.
- Craving to limit use – the person wants to cut or stop consuming alcohol or drugs, but he is not able to do so.
- Time spent – the addict spent a lot of time trying to get the substance.
- Cravings – the person feels an intense yearning to use the substance.
- Lack of responsibility – the user no longer performs his or her duties such as home, work or school obligations.
- Relationship problems – the user experience strained relationship with family or friends.
- Loss of interest – the person stops enjoying the vital recreational as well as social activities, and instead, enjoys taking the substance.
- Dangerous use – despite the user experiencing hurt, he or she may still continue using the substance.
- Worsening situations – the use continue the use of alcohol or drugs even after worsened psychological and physical issues.
- Tolerance – the individual consumes large amounts of substance so that he or she achieves the desired effects as before.
- Withdrawal – it may be emotional or physical. The adverse effects of withdrawal are; irritability, vomiting, and nausea.
The dangers of alcohol and drug abuse
Over 23 million individuals are known to be addicted to drugs and alcohol. The common alcohol combinations and drugs that are abused and have a considerably negative impact on people’s lives include the following:
Cocaine and alcohol
It is the common combination. These two substances are known to produce a powerful high for users. Cocaine is well-known to be a stimulant which enhances the blood pressure and heart rate. Also, it is responsible for boosting alertness to make you active and productive all day long. Therefore, cocaine ensures that alcohol reaches to your brain quickly. The combination causes cocaethylene which in turn, produces an intense feeling of satisfaction. However, the combination can lead to overdose, death or heart attack.
Sleeping pills and alcohol
Sleeping pills have their own risks when you take them. Nonetheless, when you combine them with alcohol, it may lead to life-threatening effects. It is very clear that sedative effects will be greatly increased when you drink alcohol while consuming sleeping pills. The combination may also lead to confusion, faintness, and dizziness.
Antidepressants and alcohol
Antidepressants are meant for people having mental health issues. They may be Prozac or Zoloft. The combination of antidepressant, and alcohol might worsen the adverse effects associated to depressants. Therefore, it might lead to being more anxious or depressed. You may have problems sleeping, impaired judgment or irritability.
Painkillers and alcohol
Painkillers such as OxyContin, Xanax, and Vicodin are known to be commonly used in the US to treat mild-severe pain. When you use these painkillers with alcohol, the drugs can cause dangerous health issues. This may lead to the development of liver problems as well as liver disease. Furthermore, when you take them separately, still they may damage your liver.
Marijuana and alcohol
Marijuana and alcohol are antidepressants. Thus, combining them leads to overdose. For that reason, the substances may cause paranoia, high anxiety, vomiting, nausea, and vomiting. Shockingly, there may be alcohol poisoning because marijuana can prevent vomiting leaving alcohol in the body.
Ecstasy and alcohol
Ecstasy is a known stimulant which may lead to severe reactions if used with other drugs or alcohol. It will make you drink more alcohol each minute as compared to when you are not using ecstasy. As a result, it may lead to extreme dehydration. Other adverse effects are; excessive sweating, nausea, vomiting, heat stroke and diarrhea.
Heroin and alcohol
These two substances are antidepressants which lead to the same adverse effects. Slowed breathing is the most dangerous risk of taking antidepressants. Consuming heroin and alcohol is very dangerous as it may worsen breathing issues and lead to life-threatening effects. It is important to note that quitting heroin can be very difficult as it is a highly addictive drug. This combination may slow your heart rate and cause overdosing.
Substance abuse adverse effects
Dependence on alcohol and drugs over a long period may cause serious harm to your body. Some of the effects can be minor and they can last for short period. On the other hand, some effects can lead to permanent damage. The severity of these effects depends on the type of the drug involved as well as the amount of alcohol you drink.
Temporary drug and alcohol adverse effects include the following:
- They can lead to decreased or increase heart rate.
- They might be difficult for you to control your muscles.
- They may lower inhibitions.
- You can experience temporary memory loss. This might affect your productivity at work as well as at home.
- Lead to respiratory issues. You might have breathing problems.
- Might lead to low concentration. You will have difficulty staying alert.
- Increased emotions of fear, anxiety or sadness. This will affect how you relate with others.
The long-term complications are well-known to cause greater risks and may lead to the development of additional health problems later in your life. These effects include the following:
- Lead to the destruction of your internal organs such as the heart, liver, brain or kidney. Failure of some of these organs may even cause death.
- Lead to the breakdown of bone and muscle. You will be less productive with this effect as you will no longer work for as long as before. Being unproductive may lead to job loss, consequently, you may fall into depression. In some extreme cases, people may commit suicide because they feel useless.
- Poor nutrition. You will not be able to feed well while on drugs or consuming alcohol. This is so because many addicted people replace their meals with drugs or alcohol.
- Nasal perforation may lead to nosebleeds, nose pain, running nose and headache among other effects.
- Permanent memory impairment. If this happens, a person can forget even his or her loved ones, friends and other family members (close people in his or her life). It is associated with the decline in cognitive functions and thinking capabilities.
- Hearing problems. Not hearing can cause job loss and it may be difficult for those around you to communicate. It might take a while to learn sign language for proper and effective communication.
- Lack of vital coordination skills may affect how you perform your tasks.
Tips for relapse prevention
Someone who is recovering from drug or alcohol abuse understands that relapse is a common occurrence. Therefore, this fact should not be ignored. You are advised not to wait until it is late (when you fall into temptation) for you to develop a suitable prevention strategy. This is so because it might be too late for you to get help. Developing true prevention plan before even you leave the facility is a perfect thing to do. Fortunately, there are proactive things meant to prevent you from falling into relapse. They are:
Identify your high-risk situations
It is important that you know the trigger situations such as the friends or groups you hand out with, or specific locations that you used to drink (might be sporting location, bar or restaurant). List these things on a paper and devise a way on how to deal with them in advance. In case you will be in one of the above situations, you will definitely have a plan of how to go about it. Knowing in advance what to do in case of the trigger situation is a sure way of helping you stay positive and avoid relapse.
Solve your problems as they happen
While you are trying to come out of addiction, you may experience both positive and negative problems and feelings, and it is vital to deal with them right away. This is important as it prevents building up of stress as well as avoiding stress explode. If stress builds up or explode, relapse will definitely occur.
Keep everything in your life well-balanced
Stasis in life is important. This ensures that you are fully productive and happy about life. Therefore, stress will be reduced significantly and you will find enjoyments with your friends and family without having to depend on drugs or alcohol.
Look for support and trust
As an addict, you should understand that you cannot make it alone. You need help from other people. Seek support and trust from your counselor, coworkers, family and/or friends. They can help in solving your problem, thus, reduce stress, and support you to your goals. Notably, be aware of any warnings of possible relapse.
Take care of yourself
Relapse will occur when you are not taking care of yourself. Take care of your emotions, your body and ensure that you sleep well. Even though you may feel exhausted and feel like you need to escape, please don’t. Isolation is as a result of addiction, therefore, engage in relaxing techniques like exercise, meditation or yoga so that you can find pleasure in other people’s company. Otherwise, isolation may increase the urge of consuming alcohol or drugs, and thus, may lead to relapse. Taking good care of yourself is a vital thing that reduces the chances of going back to the old ways.
Deal with your mental urges
Sometimes, what goes on in the mind may lead you in the wrong way. Be true for you to find a permanent solution. Therefore, avoid lying about your past ways. Do not fantasize about how you felt while taking alcohol or drugs. This is a risky thing for any addict as and it can lead to relapse.
It is important that you tell a person (family, coworker or friend) what you are feeling when using drugs or alcohol. By talking about your problem, the desire to use alcohol or drug will start to reduce, and in some instances, it will disappear completely. You should not feel alone. You can wait for about half an hour as most desires last between fifteen to thirty minutes. It will be fortunate enough if you will get past 30 minutes as it is a good sign that you will not get back to taking drugs or alcohol.
Make sure that you engage yourself in some activities as this will get your mind off urges and you can easily overcome relapse. You can take a walk, swim or hike. Also, you can go out with friends or do anything that prevents you from going back to your past ways. Relaxing is another good thing which prevents you from doing what is common to you, thus, you will not go back to drinking or taking drugs.
Take medications regularly as prescribed
It is important for you to take your medications if prescribed. It is a safe way to keep you from falling into temptation. Stopping the medications may bring back the urges and in the end, lead to withdrawal symptoms which can be challenging to control.
Continue with meetings and counseling
Alcohol and drugs may sometimes have long-term effects on your brain reward system, especially after using drugs or alcohol over a long period. As a result, stress may tempt you to use substance again. The support provided by a therapist or attending your meetings may reduce temptations making you live a better lifestyle.
Have sober friends and make fulfilling hobbies
Boredom is a common complaint from any addicts as they readjust their lives without having to use the substance. Friends will help you fight boredom and they may help you be productive and cheerful all day long. Also, doing the things that you love during boredom will prevent you from relapse.
Substance abuse is a common problem worldwide, with many people falling into addiction each day. However, it is always good to be safe and not experiment taking the substance as this is the first step to addiction. Stay away from bad friends or influential groups that may drag you to drinking or taking alcohol.
On the other hand, if you are already using them, it is not too late to look for solutions. Work with a good system (friends, coworkers, family or counselor) to help you get rid of your old ways. Stay positive and take your medications regularly as prescribed for a better person.