Adolescent Drug Trends
By: Jeff Bullock, LCDC
Over the past decade there have been observable drug trends from, my professional view point, that have taken place in the adolescent population. (Please note that marijuana use has always been in the backdrop for use of this population so this article is more about the rise of other categories of drug use.) Before oxycontin got rescheduled from a Class III substance to a more restrictive Class II substance by the DEA, it was in prolific use. It seemed like 3 out of 10 adolescents, who were tested in their original drug assessments, tested positive for it. Since the rescheduling it almost never appears on a drug screen. Score one for the DEA. It also might be a good time to note that alcohol use is not the highest presented problem as the drug of choice for this population. Why? It is the hardest drug for them to get. Can you believe that? Since you must be 21 to purchase alcohol it is hard for the average adolescent to gain access to.
So, what did take the place of oxycontin use? Benzodiazepines. Commonly called “bars” because of the shape of the pill. Funny sounding name but you know what they are. Some of their trade names are; Xanax, Diazepam, Klonopin, Valium, Tranxene, Halcion, and Librium. Those are just a few but odds are you probably recognized one of them. It is frightening how easily accessible these are to get. Either through raiding someone’s medicine cabinet or just buying some from a friend, they can be literally, instantly obtained. Simply put they help ease anxiety and can produce sleep. Marijuana should also be noted that it is used for the very same reasons.
Stimulant discussion should not be ignored. Pharmacological prescription drugs, cocaine, “crack”, and “meth” produce temporary alertness and energy. It is a vicious cycle to become addicted to this classification because their affects are short term thus a person will use them constantly for the desired effect. The types commonly used in this age groups are nicotine, ecstasy, Ritalin, and Adderall. Cocaine, “crack”, and “meth” are used and should never be ruled out because they are typically used by adults.
The rising category that should be discussed is hallucinogens. Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that cause hallucinations—profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality. Hallucinogens can be found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) or can be man-made, and they are commonly divided into two broad categories: classic hallucinogens (such as LSD) and dissociative drugs (such as PCP). When under the influence of either type of drug, people often report rapid, intense emotional swings and seeing images, hearing sounds, and feeling sensations that seem real but are not. This category is on the rise and it is becoming favored because of the short period time in which the drug can be detected in a person’s system after use.
The last category but not the least is marijuana. This drug is so prevalent it is easier for a youth to acquire marijuana than alcohol. Now that several states have legalized it, today’s youth see nothing wrong in the use of it. They don’t understand, whether it is illegal or not, it is not good to use any substance which limits your life’s experience. What they think is helping them hurts them in the long run because they cannot cope with life without its effects. This is so sad but true. Statistics show that a young adult, who uses marijuana and starts to form a pattern of consistent use will continue that use until they reach their forties. Why then? Because it dawns on them that half of their life is over and they pause only to reflect on where they are at and if their like how their life is turning out. It is at this moment they begin to grasp what limitations their drug of choice has placed on them. Some people will stop using drugs and reinvest in themselves into living life to the fullest. But a large percentage will feel that it is too late to change and will continue to use for the rest of their lives. Therefore, drug use must be stopped at the earliest age possible.
In summation, the adolescent faces a reality that is quickly ever changing and creating a dynamic in which it can cause a person to become imbalanced and to become unsure of who they are. Social media has created a new level of social pressures that have never been seen before. It seems the degree in which this has happened correlates with the severity of drug use that has been outlined in this article. Yet there is hope. If your child is altering their mood state, there are things you can do. Just remember you are not alone and there are ways of helping yourself and your child.
Here are some suggestions that are recommended:
- Don’t buy into the myth that because it is legal in some states that it is not bad.
- If you child says that it is helping them concentrate let them know that there are other ways to help their concentration improve and the use of illegal substance is not one of them.
- Help your child visualize a future that is best for them. Not the one that you have for them but the one that they can best experience the use of all their natural talents.
- Any friend of theirs who uses drugs should be ruled out of their life immediately. A person cannot find sobriety when their friends are using drugs. Let them know that you have compassion for those friends but the health of your child comes first.
- Influence who they choose as friends if you can. Find healthy activities and you will find healthy people for your child to be around.
- Don’t ever give up. The future of any adolescent who is using, is in peril. The rate of success for children getting off drugs increases exponentially when a parent is involved.
- Seek professional help. There is a treatment program somewhere that will meet you and your child’s needs. Make sure that you meet with anyone who is going to be working with you child.
- Just remember that your child’s soul is pure, they are just doing something that is bad for them. They just need to stop harmful behavior and begin a healthy lifestyle.
Jeff Bullock is a licensed chemical dependency counselor at Access Counseling Group with locations in Frisco and Plano Texas.