Better Understanding Substance abuse in Teens

Are you wanting to better understand substance abuse in your teen? Lately, you’ve been concerned about your teen. They may appear under the influence of drugs or alcohol after hanging out with their friends. You may not be too fond of their friends to begin with. You start to worry about whether or not your teen is being peer pressured.

The low, red eyes. The scent of marijuana or alcohol coming from their mouths and clothes. You don’t understand why they are doing this to themselves, and respond in anger and discipline. They may smell like a cloud of tobacco when they walk in the room.

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It’s a matter of concern if your teen is abusing substances. This is usually indicative of issues of self esteem and self control. Or other issues in school or with peers, issues at home and more.

You don’t want to see your teen succumb to drug or alcohol use to numb their feelings. You want to help them have other ways to deal with the pain they are feeling. Our therapists in Simi Valley, Ca are here to help you support your teen.

According to the CDC, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are the most commonly used substances among teenagers. 

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What is substance abuse?

Teenagers are going to experiment with drugs and alcohol. They see it on TV shows, movies, commercials, in pop culture references, in music. It’s hard to try and shield them from all of that information, and not healthy to try to do anyway.

There’s a difference between teens experimenting and teens abusing substances along with differing risks and consequences that come with it.

If a teen associates these sensations with curing their mood, depression, relieving irritability or stress, it has become abuse. 

Substance abuse is often seen when a teen is using a substance order to avoid thinking about current life problems. Abusing the substance means either taking it in copious amounts to achieve greater high/drunk feeling and seeing the substance as the only means to feel better.

Why is my teen abusing substances?

Your teen may be abusing substances due to many factors. They may be struggling with a stressful family, friend, or peers. They may feel insecure about themselves and their passions or hobbies. By feeling like an outsider or someone who does not belong, they may abuse substances to cope.

They may be struggling with psychological problems such as anxiety or depression, and abuse substances as a coping mechanism for when uncomfortable feelings or state of minds arise. 

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In teen therapy in Simi Valley, Ca we work with your teen on understanding the root problems influencing substance use. 

Common substances to abuse and effects

Common substances that your teen may be abusing may be easily accessible or even inside your own cabinet. 

Marijuana, also referred to as weed, pot, Mary Jane, or dope, is a psychoactive drug that can have mind altering effects. These include experiencing brighter colors around them, increased pleasure in listening to music or television/movies, a sense of euphoria. Marijuana can be ingested through smoking it, drinking it, or eating it. It can be relatively easy to craft a smoking device out of common household objects, like an apple or water bottle. Marijuana is also a popular street drug and can be found quite easily. 

woman in white tshirt and hair flowing in hair

Alcohol is a substance that produces a groggy, dizzying, confused state of mind. It creates for highly impacted senses of sight, motor control, and more. Teens may be taking alcohol from your personal collection. They may have an older friend purchase it, or are simply stealing it from liquor stores. Alcohol presents the risk of alcohol poisoning and can obviously have lethal effects if too much is consumed. 

In both alcohol and marijuana, it can be hard to cover up that someone is under the influence of it.

Marijuana has a certain skunk smell, and can leave the teen with red eyes, dilated pupils, delayed thinking and slow speech. Alcohol can also be smelled and leave teens with glossed over eyes, slurring words, a loss of balance, and more identifiable symptoms of being drunk.

Tobacco is a currently evolving drug in today’s society. It used to be just plain tobacco in cigarette paper, but now it’s become electric. The effects of vaping are not quite known, but certain popular tobacco products, such as Juuls, can have a nicotine level equivalent to a whole pack of cigarettes in just one “pod”. These products are extremely addictive.

Whether it be electronic nicotine or classic cigarettes, this substance can have harsh withdrawal effects. If your teen seems increasingly irritated, irate, and overall angry, they may be withdrawing from tobacco. Make sure to do your own research on withdrawal effects and signs to look out for that indicate your teen is under the influence.

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How to talk to your teen about substance abuse

If you’re feeling that your teen is abusing substances, it’s important to interject and offer your support and guidance on the situation.

The earlier a teen/adolescent starts abusing substances, the more likely they are to continue that behavior and use them in the future. It’s crucial that you are talking to them about it with no judgment and are able to understand where they are coming from. 

Raiding their room to present what you’ve recovered may not be the best route. It will take some established trust between you and your teen to have them own up to what is going on. They may not want to give up their stash of marijuana, alcohol, or weed, and there’s risk for them to go out and buy more if you just take it away.

Our therapists in SImi Valley, Ca are here to help your teen and your family during this time. 

Professional intervention is always a great idea in these situations because your teen will be able to speak to an unbiased individual who may have a greater understanding of substance abuse and the underlying causes for it. 

About Simi Psychological Group

At our therapy practice in Simi Valley, Ca we offer Child therapy and family counseling, Teen therapy, Anxiety Treatment, Depression Therapy, Marriage Counseling, and Neuropsychological Testing. Now Offering Online Therapy in Los Angeles and Online Counseling Ventura County