Teenage drug abuse in the UK is a big issue. For one, teenagers brains are still developing. Drug abuse at this stage can do more damage to the brain that it would to a fully grown adult.
Studies have also found that regular drug abuse at a young age can slow or even alter this development, causing issues such as drug addiction or mental impairment well into adulthood.
With 8% of primary school pupils saying they’ve tried cannabis, and this number jumping to 14% in high school, it’s clear that our teenage years are, for many, a time to experiment.
While these numbers aren’t huge (and the ones for drugs like heroin and cocaine are thankfully much lower), it remains a concern that so many are trying drugs during the formative years of their brain’s development.
Teenage Drug Abuse Statistics
Unfortunately, the percentage of teenage drug abuse is mostly on the rise, although this is drastically less the case for hard drugs like cocaine.
For example, in 2016, 24% of children said they had tried drugs at least once. This is a worrying increase from 15% in 2014.
The statistics for adults during the same period stayed almost identical, increasing only from 8.4% to 8.5%.
Despite this, the likelihood of having tried drugs does increase with age, with 11% of 11-year-olds saying they have tried drugs compared to 37% of 15-year-olds.
What are the Causes of Teenage Drug Abuse?
There are many reasons that a teenager may decide to try drugs.
The causes of teenage drug abuse can include:
- A difficult or stressful home/family life
- Witnessing adults take drugs or talk about them positively
- Mental issues
- Pure curiosity/lack of education around drugs
- Believing taking drugs is cool
Many of these issues can be solved or at least detected at home by parents, but there is one major, difficult to detect the cause of teenage drug abuse: peer pressure.
Peer pressure is often disregarded, especially by teenagers themselves.
If you discuss peer pressure with them, they may well respond along the lines of “I make my own decisions” or “I’m not gonna do drugs just because somebody else did!”.
They may even be 100% serious and honest when they say this, but peer pressure is something that simply cannot be ignored.
The same is even true for adults – when helping patients to overcome addiction issues, if relapses or temptation are a major issue, we often advise them to avoid friends or associates that they most often drink or take drugs with, as simply spending time with those people can be a trigger.
Simply telling your children to avoid drugs or people who regularly take them is one thing, but do you actually know the people they’re spending time with?
How to Prevent Teenage Drug Abuse
Teenage drug abuse prevention is a difficult topic. The most important factor, bar none, is education.
If you can educate your children early on drugs, why people take them, and the dangers to your brain and body, you can expect them to be dramatically less likely to indulge in drug abuse.
However, even if you educate your kids on drugs thoroughly and watch them like a hawk while they’re at home, you never know who they’re spending time with while elsewhere, and what these people are saying about drugs.
There is even potential for teenagers to get influenced to try drugs by certain music.
To a certain extent, it’s important to trust your children and let them make their own path in life, but it is always a good idea to insist that you meet a friend or acquaintance before they spend time alone, or meet a friend’s parents before they stay over.
This knowledge will ensure they don’t spend time with more risky or erratic friends and that you’re always in control.
Another way to prevent teenage drug abuse is simply to watch them and pay attention.
For example, if your child is going out every single night without fail, spending all of their money, and avoiding you when they come home, that’s a red flag.
Instead of confronting them in this situation, simply make sure that you have a talk to them when they come in, and avoid allowing them to slip by you into their room.
It will be quite easy to see if they’re under the influence of drugs by checking their eyes for redness or pupil dilation, and seeing how they respond to normal conversation.
Despite this, if your child really wants to try drugs, they will get the chance at some point and there’s nothing you can do about that, which is why education is always the #1 priority.
The teenager that gets offered drugs by a trusted friend and turns them down, is the mature, educated teenager who knows what could happen if they accept.
How to Get Help for Addicted Teenagers
If you believe your child or a teenage friend or acquaintance might be suffering from drug addiction, the first and most important step is to get help.
On both programmes, you will receive full access to:
- 24/7 guidance from nurses, GPs and therapists
- A GP consultation
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy & other forms of therapy
- Support groups and talks from people who have overcome addiction
- Holistic therapies like yoga, acupuncture and more
- Fitness trainers and nutritionists to keep you healthy
- Medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms
All of the above will combine to give you the best possible chance of recovery, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.
So what are you waiting for?