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Teenagers have a higher risk of experiencing severe long-term effects of chronic substance abuse. According to the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), “Young people who persistently abuse substances often experience an array of problems, including academic difficulties, health-related problems (including mental health), poor peer relationships, and involvement with the juvenile justice system. Additionally, there are consequences for family members, the community, and the entire society.” A teen’s mental health directly impacts their ability to manage substance use disorder (SUD). The Redpoint Center uses evidence-based methods and family support services to help teens and their families recover from the effects of substance abuse.

Common Addictive Substances That Impact a Teen’s Mental Health

Teens are affected more strongly by substance abuse because their bodies are growing. In addition, the lack of developed social skills may make teens more susceptible to peer pressure. Chronic substance abuse at a young age can negatively impact physical, emotional, and social development. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “High-risk drug use increases the likelihood that youth will engage in risk behaviors that can have dramatic, and lasting effects on their health and academic performance.” The Redpoint Center treats substance abuse by educating teens, providing them with essential coping skills, and teaching them healthy tools for managing stress. Alcohol and marijuana abuse are two of the most common forms of addiction reported by teens.

How Does Marijuana Affect Teens?

According to the CDC, “Marijuana use might have permanent effects on the developing brain when use begins in adolescence, especially with regular or heavy use.” In addition, “People who use marijuana are more likely to develop temporary psychosis (not knowing what is real, hallucinations, and paranoia) and long-lasting mental disorders, including schizophrenia (a type of mental illness where people might see or hear things that aren’t there).” Approximately 37% of teens have used marijuana at some point in their lives. Teens who misuse marijuana also have higher rates of dropping out of school, impacting future health and well-being. The drug can negatively affect relationships with friends and loved ones.

Teen Alcohol Abuse

Underage drinking is a leading cause of severe illness, injury, and death in the United States. According to the CDC, “Excessive drinking is responsible for about 4,000 deaths and more than 220,000 years of potential life lost among people under age 21 each year.” People who drink as young adults have a higher risk of being diagnosed with SUD and mental health disorders later in life.

Long-Term Effects of Addiction on a Teen’s Mental Health

Addiction causes severe, complex, and persistent mental health issues for teens. People who abuse alcohol or drugs at a young age have an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, physical health conditions, and SUD later in life. The type and severity of side effects depend on multiple factors, including the substance abused, the dose, how long it was abused, and any co-occurring health issues.

Some potential long-term side effects of teen SUD include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Behavioral issues
  • Increased risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders
  • Difficulty maintaining academic success
  • Increased risk of juvenile detention or legal issues

Teen substance abuse can cause disruptions to their lives, leading to unsafe or toxic home environments, self-destructive behaviors, and other changes impacting their mental and physical well-being. A teen’s mental health resources and living environment play essential roles in recovering from SUD.

How Do Changes in the Brain Affect a Teen’s Mental Health?

The teen years are critical for brain growth and development. According to Clinical EEG and Neuroscience, “Substance use during adolescence has been associated with alterations in brain structure, function, and neurocognition . . . Cognitive deficits resulting from these alcohol and drug related neural insults have potentially harmful implications for subsequent academic, occupational, and social functioning extending into adulthood.” Researchers have discovered chronic alcohol abuse during adolescence causes more severe and long-lasting mental health issues compared to other substances, including marijuana. Teen alcohol abuse may cause permanent damage to some areas of the brain and interfere with normal adolescent development.

How Can The Redpoint Center Improve a Teen’s Mental Health?

The Redpoint Center offers intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) for young adults struggling with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Teens recovering from AUD or other conditions may require additional treatments and support, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT), to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. The care team collaborates closely with teens and their families to ensure they receive the best treatment to meet their needs.

Intensive Outpatient Programs for Teens

Teens have social groups, school, and sometimes work responsibilities. Outpatient programs provide greater flexibility to ensure teens receive support and care while attending school and maintaining essential social connections. The Redpoint Center uses personalized care plans to reduce stress and help teen clients engage more fully in IOP treatments and services. Families are encouraged to play an active role in the recovery process. The care team guides clients and their loved ones through navigating treatment and aftercare.

Teens may have a higher risk of experiencing substance use disorder and mental health issues. Normalizing conversations about addiction, social relationships, mental health, and general health can help teens feel more comfortable speaking up if they begin misusing alcohol or drugs. Families help teens address mental health and substance abuse issues by regularly checking in and providing teens with a nurturing environment where they feel safe and supported. The Redpoint Center offers multiple outpatient treatment options for teens experiencing substance abuse and mental health disorders. Families benefit from collaborating with the care team to create a comprehensive treatment and aftercare plan. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (303) 710-8496.

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The Redpoint Center
1831 Lefthand Cir, Suite H
Longmont, CO 80501

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