Facts for Schools and Parents
Teen drug use in Australia is a serious concern. Adolescence is a critical stage in a person’s development to establish proper attitudes and actions towards drugs and alcohol Substance-related behaviours developed during this period can substantially affect the amount of damage adolescents experience throughout their lifetime. There are many factors that can contribute to teen drug use and misuse. These factors include the significant physical and emotional changes brought about by puberty, sensitivity to social cues, increased confidence to engage in risk-taking, and the adolescent brain’s vulnerability to even small amounts of alcohol.
The harmful effects of illicit drugs cannot be overstated. Protecting the health and livelihood of younger people, most of whom are teenagers, requires the careful intervention of parents, schools, communities, and the government.
This article explores in detail the present teen drug use statistics, and some effective measures that schools and parents may consider to address substance abuse among younger people.
Why Teenagers Use Drugs and Alcohol
The reason teenagers take drugs and alcohol is actually not much different from the adults – they want to change or improve how they feel. Other specific reasons include the following:
Facts and Statistics About Teens Drug Use in Australia
Alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis remain as the most commonly used drugs among younger people in Australia. Reports reveal that there has been a decrease in the use of tobacco and illicit drugs among younger people especially teenagers year after year since 2001. Similarly, there has been a decline in the use of alcohol among adolescents since 2007. However, alcohol consumption at risky levels remains relatively high.
Younger people are also starting to use drugs and consume alcohol at a later age. The average age of initiation for alcohol consumption increased from 14.7 to 16.2 years. Meanwhile, on average, adolescents do not start smoking tobacco until they are 16.6 years old, an increase from 14.3 years.
Statistical data further reveals the danger of drug and alcohol use for younger people. For instance, 83% of young Australians aged 14-19 who consume alcohol at risky levels get injured as a result of their drinking. Alcohol-related injuries cause 7% of the same population to attend the emergency department.
What are the Effects of Drug and Alcohol Consumption
Drugs are chemicals designed to alter the brain’s communication system. When these chemicals enter the body, either through drinking, eating, smoking, inhalation, or injection, they change the way nerve cells normally function. What makes drug and alcohol consumption even more concerning is that the same drug and the same dosage may affect two people differently. The way drugs influence people, especially younger adults, depends on many variables, including the following:
As a result of repeated drug use, a person’s ability to feel pleasure could be reduced. Adolescents will become incapable of enjoying the things or activities that used to bring them pleasure. Younger adults may feel depressed and lifeless.
The changes in the way neurons communicate with each other due to drug or alcohol use can even cause physical sickness and even death. Depending on the drug, breathing could slow down to dangerous levels. Other drugs can cause heart attacks, lung problems, or cancer.
Drug and alcohol consumption can eventually lead to severe changes in the health of the brain, mind, and body. These changes can remain even after the person has stopped using drugs, especially when the person has taken the drug repeatedly over a long period of time. It is crucial to provide adolescents with the help they need, at home or in school, to prevent the long-term effects of drug use from developing.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug and Alcohol Use
It can be challenging for you as a parent or teacher to look for specific signs or symptoms that can give you absolute certainty that a young person is using drugs or alcohol. The signs and symptoms listed below usually suggest that an adolescent has a developing problem:
What Can You Do to Prevent Drug or Alcohol Use in Adolescents
As a parent or teacher, there are ways you can reduce the possibility of teenagers around you developing drug or alcohol problems. It is important to remember that there are no parenting skills or teaching styles that can guarantee that the adolescents under your care will never use drugs. However, the following suggestions can help you guide them to make healthy decisions and willl be instrumental in preventing teen drug use.
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