Impacts of Adolescent Substance Abuse

What are the consequences of substance abuse on young people—particularly, those going through adolescence? Adolescence is typically defined as the period between the ages of 13 and 18. During this stage of life, a young person experiences numerous changes on both a physiological and a psychological level. An increasing body of research supports what anecdotal evidence and common sense would suggest: Drug abuse at a young age can be extremely damaging to the development and psyche of a young person.

Individual Consequences of Early Drug Use

In many cases, early experimentation with illegal or restricted substances can lead to serious consequences, such as:

  • Memory loss
  • Concentration / attention problems
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Loss of coping skills
  • Detrimentally affected brain development
  • Social worries
  • Academic struggles
  • Health problems
  • Affected relationships
  • Delinquency

Statistics of Teenage Drug Use

CASAColumbia is a nonprofit organization focused on the research and policy surrounding substance abuse. The organization published a study compiling thousands of interviews, multiple focus groups, reviews of publications, national data set analysis, and more.

The report found that:

  • Three in four high school students have used addictive substances, including cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol
  • 90% of Americans who are considered addicted to one or more substances according to established medical criteria began using addictive substances before 18 years of age
  • One in 25 Americans who began using substances at 21 or older were addicted compared to one in four Americans who began using addictive substances before 18 years of age
  • 46% of high school students currently use addictive substance
  • 12% of high school students can be considered addicted according to medical criteria

Types of Substances

Of course, different types of substances have different effects on different people. Restricted and addictive substances include:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • LSD
  • Prescription drugs

Additionally, various factors impact a young person’s susceptibility and vulnerability to substance abuse, including:

  • Family history
  • Genetics
  • Mental health and other factors
  • Media consumption
  • Environmental factors

Nationwide Consequences of Adolescent Drug Use

The economic cost of adolescent drug use is also substantial. According to research published by CASAColumbia:

  • Juvenile justice programs involving drug use cost the United States $14.5 billion annually
  • Juvenile justice programs involving alcohol use cost the United States $68 billion annually

These numbers are even more sobering when you consider the total cost of drug and alcohol use every year. This is a valid number to consider in the context of adolescent substance use, since it is a well-established fact that substance abuse and addiction begins for most individuals before age 18. All factors considered from state, federal, and local levels of government, American taxpayers pay a total of $468 billion every year for substance use-related issues. That is nearly $1,500 for every American citizen.

For more information about our behavioral health services in Northern California, call Therapeutic Solutions today at (530) 899-3150.


Cannabis & Mental Health

As cannabis continues to be legalized across the U.S. and becomes more and more accessible for people and patients alike, it is important to understand how this drug can impact mental health. Research has shown a strong connection between regular cannabis use and mental health problems.

Some of the mental diseases associated with cannabis use:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Those Already at Risk Face Increased Threat

While it may not necessarily be proven that cannabis use directly causes a person to develop a psychosis disease like schizophrenia, evidence does suggest that the drug triggers mental disease in those that are already at risk. That means they may experience psychosis earlier or show stronger symptoms than they would have without ever using cannabis. Especially when cannabis is used heavily, it can double the risk of schizophrenia in those who are already vulnerable according to studies. In fact, heavy use of cannabis at a young age is associated with a six-fold increase in risk for developing schizophrenia.

Does Cannabis Use Lead to Depression or Anxiety?

While there is a much clearer link between cannabis use and aggravated schizophrenia, the connection to common mental health disorders like depression and anxiety isn’t as clear. In some cases, cannabis may be used by some to attempt to relieve the symptoms of these conditions. While it may temporarily help with surface level symptoms, studies indicate that regularly smoking cannabis can actually make depression worse for those struggling with it. People that use cannabis have reportedly had increased levels of depression compared to those who did not use it. Heavy use can lead to depression later in life as well.

Some of the symptoms associated with regular cannabis use are connected to anxiety, such as panic. However, there isn’t necessarily any evidence pointing to cannabis as an aggravating factor or cause of anxiety disorders like panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Who Is Most at Risk?

Anyone who may have a family history of mental health disorders should avoid smoking cannabis, as this can certainly play a factor in earlier or aggravated symptoms. Further, those who start regularly and heavily using cannabis as young adolescents are at far greater risk for experiencing mental health problems and disorders. Even when disorders do not develop, memory problems and concentration issues may develop.

Those who already have a psychotic illness and use cannabis may experience:

  • Increased or worsened symptoms
  • More delusions or hallucinations
  • Higher likelihood of hospitalization for psychosis
  • Regular treatment becomes less effective
  • More difficult recovery from psychotic episodes

If you have used cannabis regularly and begin to feel symptoms of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or any other mental health disorder, it is important that you get professional help right away. Therapeutic Solutions offers unique, proven programs that help patients restore balance to their lives.


Managing Depression & Mental Health During the Holidays

Depression affects more than 14.8 million adults in the U.S. For those struggling with depression, the holiday season can be anything but the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, for most people with depression and mental health disorders, the holidays can be one of the most difficult, frustrating, and dreadful times of the year. Even people who don’t struggle with clinical depression can find the holidays to be extremely depressing and stressful.

Some of the reasons for this include the hectic nature of preparing a home for family members and guests, endless parties and social gatherings, gift shopping, big meal making, and everything in between. Even seeing others more cheerful and merry than usual can make it extra difficult for those struggling with depression.

Staying Joyful & Merry During the Holiday Season
So what are ways you can help yourself or your loved one manage depression and mental health during the holidays? Therapeutic Solutions wants to equip you with some practical tips and steps to help make your season more joyful.

Consider the following as we head into the holidays:

1. Don’t Let Your Expectations Run Away From You

When you think of the holiday season, do you envision classic movies that portray the perfect turkey dinner or glazed ham with family members smiling around a table or drinking hot cocoa while watching the snow fall? Don’t let elevated expectations creep into your holiday season! Keep your mindset realistic and don’t build up how you think the end of the year should round out. When things don’t go your way, it can easily trigger depression. Consider stepping outside of tradition to create a unique holiday experience that will take the pressure off.

Instead of worrying about preparing the perfect meal, finding the perfect gift, or putting up the most beautiful decorations, just enjoy the simple moments. While this can be easier said than done, find a support system of people or professionals who can hold you accountable to this. If you feel yourself getting carried away, talk to them about your readjusting your expectations and your efforts.

2. Take Time to Volunteer

While you don’t want to overbook your holiday season, carving out time to volunteer can help you take your mind off your own stresses and concerns and remember a greater purpose around the holidays. Serving those who have less than you can truly put your holidays into perspective and help you restore your joy and comfort knowing you have made even just a small difference in the life of another person. From soup kitchens to toy drives, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer this time of year. You may want to take some time away to serve on your own or may even suggest serving with family and friends to bring a unified perspective to the holidays.

3. Avoid Holiday Depression Triggers

Are there certain people, places, or even Christmas songs that act as depression triggers for you? Don’t let these things creep into your holiday season! By heading off problems, you can help minimize the risk of triggering your depression and maintain a more joyful and consistent attitude. Whether that means you avoid your aunt’s big party this year or you opt to stay in a hotel room instead of a memory-filled house, make sure you think through triggers and create an alternative plan to avoid them. You may be surprised at how easily you can control and overcome these triggers without giving up your holiday fun!

4. Keep Your Schedule Lighter Than Usual

There is no denying the holidays can be stressful. With parties, social gatherings, gift shopping, school functions, and other festive events going on, it may be hard to find time to take a deep breath. With the holiday season seeming to drag on for weeks, don’t overbook your schedule. By keeping your weeks lighter than usual, you can take time to manage your depression and avoid common triggers. Even consider shopping online to avoid the hectic mall scene!

Having time to relax around the holidays is important too. Only go to parties or events you really want to go to and know you will enjoy. When you do hit up your cousin’s dreaded white elephant gift party, don’t stay longer than you want. For events you feel like you have to attend, just drop by for a few minutes and let your host know you have other engagements. Knowing you don’t have to stay at a party until the end of the evening can eliminate anxiety and make your experience less stressful.

5. Eat, Exercise & Stay Healthy

This time of year can be filled with distractions, hearty meals, and plenty of lengthy parties and visits. Don’t let yourself get out of healthy habits! You can enjoy those traditional meals but if you know certain foods can make you feel gross or effect your mood, opt for alternatives. Eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising during this time of year can keep your mind alert and help you avoid a slump. With all the hustle and bustle, you may forget to take medication or keep up with appointments. Make sure you maintain your regular schedule and even consider setting up additional appointments with the team at Therapeutic Solutions. We offer specialized treatment options that can help mitigate the symptoms of depression without the use of drugs or medication.

If you feel sad around the holidays, be sure to acknowledge these feelings! While you shouldn’t force yourself to be happy this time of year, there are options for you to manage your depression and still enjoy the season.