Causes of Substance Abuse in Teenagers – Know the Signs

substance abuse in teenagers

Causes of Substance Abuse in Teenagers – Know the Signs

Among adolescents, substance abuse can vary from experimentation to severe substance abuse disorders. So many times, teens don’t understand the repercussions of their actions and think they are unbreakable. 

Substance use in modern society often has a factor of appeasing one’s peers and their inner soul to be venturous.

Unfortunately, substance abuse is becoming a common norm, and most adolescents want to experiment with alcohol and tobacco to “fit in” or “be cool”.

Some adolescents try out and stop, or use every so often while others develop an addiction leading to grave health problems. 

Adolescents abuse drugs legally and illegally. The legally available substances are alcohol, and over the counter prescribed drugs.

The illegal drugs commonly available are marijuana and stimulants like cocaine, heroin, PCP, LSD, opiates and crack.  

Alcohol abuse has become such a common norm in today’s generation. The adolescents think they can use it as their coping mechanism to stress.

Teens get addicted to smoking because of the high they feel. Smoking marijuana is the new black for teens!

The drugs target the dopamine receptors in our brain and this leads to increased release of dopamine. This is the principal mechanism due to which people abuse drugs. To get easy and instant euphoria.  

Recent studies have shown that if people have this particular gene they are more prone to develop substance use disorder and are more liable to get addicted to it. There are still more studies going on about Substance Abuse in Teenagers.



Youth consistently abusing substances unfolds a wide range of mental health issues and poor peer relationships. 

Substance Abuse in Teenagers affects one’s academics with poor grades and increasing non attendance of school. It even leads to cognitive and behavioral difficulty.

Growing substance abuse has disproportionately increased the risk of accidents, suicide, and homicide. 

HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted disease transmission has increased with sharing of unsterile needles among teens with heroin addiction.

Effects of drugs on youth can even include engaging in harmful and reckless sexual activities increasing the transmission of these diseases. 

Substance abusers get addicted to the drugs and slowly they become resistant to the initial doses.

This leads to them introducing more and more amounts of drugs in their body eventually resulting in overdosing and fatal complications.

The substance abusers have increased risk than non-users in developing mental health issues like depression, apathy, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and withdrawal.

Prevailing tobacco and marijuana use, has shown hindrance in psychomotor skills and short-term memory loss. 

You can also read about the >>>> Best Treatment for Opioids Addiction in Patna.


Substance Abuse in Teenagers can have a negative impact on a person’s family life, it can ruin interpersonal relationships and cause family dysfunction.

The addict would disappear and cause family distress. Sometimes, their lying and inconsistent behavior results in betrayal. 

There are numerous social and economic outcomes because of financial distress among the abusers as they can’t become self-sufficient.

Because of their drug use, that eventually leads to substance abuse related crimes and thus the government has to appoint more police officers.

The courts will see more drug abuse victims and will be overloaded. The healthcare and emergency room visit sees the most drug addicts incurring high costs eventually affecting the economy.  

At times, when they don’t get the substance they are addicted to, they may resort to harming themselves or others thus proving a threat to community

Some signs of drug abuse can be:

  • Needle marks on arms 
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Bloodshot red eyes
  • Fidgeting/shaking
  • Anti-social
  • Weight loss

They show erratic and aggressive behaviour.There will be periods of paranoia and anxiousness.

These substance abusers frequently have issues with law and order because of their tendency to steal, lie and violent behavior depicting conduct disorder. 

What signs can be depicted by a substance abuser? 

The most usual symptoms will be

  • Loss of appetite
  • Retreating from own family and no longer engaging with them
  • Confusion
  • Mood and behavior changes
  • Getting aggressive when confronted about drug abuse

Most of the time, they would be chasing the high and not conscious about what’s going on around them. The high prevents them from realizing the repercussions of their actions. 



The most consequential risk factors for substance abuse in adults and teens are parent negligence, familial influence and abuse. 

Once, teens experiment with drugs as to trying it once or twice, some develop dependency because of its effects on brain chemistry and mental health disorders. 

Parents are the role models for children. Thus, when parents are abusing such drugs it creates a negative influence on the child. The teens think this is how the world works and start abusing those drugs themselves.

Family history plays a crucial role in teens developing substance abuse disorder. This is due to interplay of genes.  

The easy accessibility of drugs in western countries is the foremost cause of drug abuse. Drug trafficking is a very common practice there.

This in turn affects the teens and adolescents gravely who still haven’t matured enough to know the difference between right and wrong.  

Lack of academic validation and self esteem are major issues concerning the mental health of adolescents.

Even some undiagnosed mental health issues can lead to drug abuse for the momentary feeling of euphoria. The other added factors can be:

  • Childhood abuse
  • Parental drug abuse
  • Peer pressure
  • Poverty
  • Behavioral health issues
  • Early aggressiveness 


If an adolescent has a substance abuse disorder, a thorough assessment should be conducted to determine a treatment regimen. 

For someone suffering from alcohol withdrawal, naltrexone and disulfiram are the approved drugs. It can provide brief relief although they would still feel nauseous and will be hard to resist alcohol.

If they present to the emergency department with alcohol withdrawal, they are started on thiamine for the prevention of wernicke-korsakoff syndrome characterized by mental confusion, and seizures.

Initially, tobacco smoking can be treated by nicotine patches, or gums. Patients who are heavily addicted, would need varenicline or bupropion to aid them with the desire to smoke. 

Opioid withdrawal can be managed by methadone or naltrexone. The affected would go through a myriad of symptoms like dilated and bloodshot red eyes,and consistent vomiting. Detoxifying is an important part of any drug withdrawal.

Teens have a hard time dealing with their addiction and seeking help because of the taboo and the fear of people judging and shunning them.

So, it’s important to make sure the treatment is not mentally draining. There are a varied range of therapeutic drugs and counseling to aid with one’s addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

Support groups and family support can go a long way in the recovery of an addict.

In this day and age, there are a number of great rehab centers that can help substance abusers along with providing moral support.

To help you with your symptoms and withdrawal, and providing you with the best care when you’re at your lowest, Dr. Vivek Pratap Singh is an amazing physician and has the Best Rehab and Deaddiction center

HOW TO PREVENT DRUG ABUSE AMONG YOUTH? After looking at the aftermath of drug abuse, it is necessary to stop it at its root cause and prevent it. 


To educate and create awareness among people about the catastrophic effects of drug abuse on their physical and mental health. 

  • Reduction in stigmatization against those dependent on drugs. 
  • Develop programmes that help people better understand the atrocities and fatal outcomes of abuse and overdose. 
  • There should be more helpline numbers and support groups people can talk to. The easy accessibility of drugs is also a major cause, creating more restraint laws on sales of these drugs and substances can be a huge step in helping control drug abuse. 

Substance Abuse in Teenagers can be a hindrance to one’s mental and physical growth. It should be treated at the root cause!

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