Protecting a child means scanning the environment, looking for dangers and removing them when possible. That’s why parents of toddlers cover electrical outlets, place bumpers around sharp furniture and gate off stairwell entrances. These steps can keep children away from the dangers contained in the home, but as these youngsters grow, they might be exposed to all kinds of new dangers, including those posed by addictive drugs. Parents who know a little more about the drugs teenagers experiment with might be in a good position to protect their children, as they’ll know what substances to remove from their homes. These are three of the most popular drugs among teenage boys.
Even though alcohol is illegal for those under 21 to purchase or consume, many young people experiment with alcohol. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 11 percent of all of the alcohol consumed in the United States is taken in by people younger than 21 years. Often, teen drinkers binge on alcohol, drinking huge amounts all at once. Teen boys who drink like this might be exposing their vulnerable brain cells to a huge amount of toxins, and these chemicals could cause persistent changes that could lead to alcoholism down the line.
The family medicine cabinet is home to many attractive drugs of abuse, including:
- Opioid painkillers, including Vicodin and OxyContin
- Stimulants, including Ritalin
- Anxiety medications, including Valium
- Sleep aids, including Ambien and Lunesta
These drugs may be compounded in pharmacies, and their use may be approved by a physician, but they’re far from safe for recreational use. Teens who take these drugs may be overwhelming their bodies with intense chemicals, and while they may feel euphoric, they may be doing significant damage to their developing brain cells. Even though the use of these drugs is dangerous, it’s also quite common, according to a study conducted by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation. Here, researchers found that one in four teens has abused a prescription medication. Of those who did abuse medications, 20 percent began the abuse prior to age 14. Studies like this demonstrate how pervasive prescription drug abuse really is, and why parents really need to keep prescriptions under lock and key.
While teens might abuse substances they find within the home, they might also feel comfortable in purchasing illicit drugs for abuse. Among the substances teen boys are willing to buy for recreational use, marijuana is the most popular. According to the Monitoring the Future Survey released in 2012, 6.5 percent of high school seniors use marijuana nearly every day. Use like this might very well be considered part of an addictive pattern, as people who use this powerful drug daily often have persistent changes in brain cell formation, and they might even feel symptoms of withdrawal when they try to curb their use.
If your teenage boy is using or abusing drugs of any sort, we’d like to help. At Muir Wood, we provide extensive addiction therapy that’s tailored to meet the very specific needs of adolescent boys. Please download our admissions packet to find out more, or call our toll-free line to speak with an operator.