By Kritika Suri (Clinical Psychologist & Mental Health Professional)
Substance use by young people is on the rise, and it has been observed that the initiation of use is occurring at even younger ages. And early initiation of substance use is usually associated with a poor prognosis and a lifelong pattern of deceit and irresponsible behavior.The drugs most commonly abused by adolescents are Alcohol and tobacco, followed by marijuana. Adolescent substance use needs to be identified and addressed as soon as possible. As trial of drugs takes no long time to turn into addiction.
Drugs can have long-lasting effects on the developing brain and may interfere with family, positive peer relationships, and school performance. Most adults who develop a substance use disorder report that they had started drug use in adolescence or young adulthood, so it is important to identify and intervene in drug use early.
There are various potential risk factors which make them vulnerable to addiction. Youth with history of physical and/or sexual abuse, genetic vulnerability, prenatal exposure to alcohol or other drugs, lack of parental monitoring and influence of peers using drugs are factors which make young generation vulnerable to substance abuse.
In our interactions with young generation so far, We have observed that teenagers develop addiction for drugs for several reasons like “To have peer acceptability”, “To look cool among friends circle”, “To have pleasure/ To feel high/ To feel relaxed”, “For concentration so as to achieve targets”.
In order to reduce the rate of substance abuse certain preventive measures should be taken at various levels. Educating young generation about the harmful effects of substance abuse at schools and colleges will help them to make better choice; parents should be educated regarding substance abuse so that they should engage in open discussion with their children about usage of alcohol and tobacco to reduce the curiosity among teenagers.
However, If your child, friend or relative gets trapped in the addiction through peer/media influence and it has led to absenteeism in their occupation, lowered their performance/ grades, started lying with you then it’s time to seek help through psychologists, clinical psychologists and psychiatrist who are working in this field.