Young People and Substance Abuse – Navigating the Risks

It can sometimes be easy to overlook the challenges young people face in the modern world. As we get older, we can become disconnected from current societal norms and pressures, and identifying when a young person might be struggling can be difficult. That’s why we want to touch on the topic of the risks of substance abuse among adolescents and young adults, highlighting why some may be susceptible and ways we can support them when they need it most. Substance abuse has the potential to affect everybody, so we must know how to look out for each other. 

Why Young People Might Be Susceptible to Substance Abuse

When everyone reaches adolescence and begins their journey towards adulthood, it is a time of self-discovery and exploration. Often, when people are in this stage of their life, they are more likely to seek new experiences and take risks. This desire can sometimes be stronger in moments where we need acceptance among peers, which can encourage individuals to engage in activities and behaviours they might not otherwise. For many young people, this involves experimenting with drugs and alcohol. 

Additionally, other factors may encourage young people to experiment, such as a family history of substance abuse, trauma, mental health issues, and other societal pressures. During this stage of

 our life, many of us struggle with stress and anxiety as we study and make big decisions about our future, so it can often be tempting for young people to want to escape these feelings.

What Risks Does Substance Abuse Pose for Young People?

When a young person begins to experiment with drugs and alcohol, it can pose significant risks to their physical and mental health. Some of the physical side effects of drugs and alcohol on young people might include impaired brain development, liver damage, cardiovascular issues, respiratory complications, a struggle with academic performance, and other health issues. Additionally, drug and alcohol abuse can have a plethora of detrimental effects on a young person’s mental well-being. These might include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric disorders. When a person’s mental health is affected by substance abuse, it is also much more likely for them to make other risky decisions, such as driving under the influence, unprotected sex, and criminal activity.   

How We Can Prevent Young People from Using Drugs and Alcohol

Stopping a young person from experimenting and taking risks can sometimes seem like an impossible task. When young people in our care go through specific changes, they often become detached and unmonitored most of the time. However, there are certain things we can do to ensure they make well-informed decisions and are aware of the impact using drugs and alcohol can have on their physical and mental health. 

It is essential to foster open communication and promote a supportive environment where a young person feels trusted and respected. The more we talk about the decisions they are likely to face, the more educated they can be on the topic. The more aware a young person becomes of the world around them and that they have a support person who cares and understands, the less likely it is they will turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their emotions. 

It is always worth sharing other online resources and hotlines with them if they feel more comfortable disclosing sensitive information to a healthcare professional. The most crucial thing we can do as adults is listen without judgement, educate ourselves on what they might be going through, and be transparent and open. 

Steps We Can Take if We Think a Young Person is Using Drugs or Alcohol

It isn’t uncommon to be concerned that a young person in our lives is on the path to struggling with substance abuse. If you think someone in your care is going through a difficult time, it is vital to approach the situation with empathy and compassion. The first step is to initiate a conversation and make them aware you are there for them but remember to avoid using a confrontational tone. Ensure they are listened to attentively, and the environment remains calm. Make them aware you want to hear their perspective. Once the conversation begins, it is time to move towards sourcing the right help for them. In the early stages, it can be easy to tackle by providing a supportive home environment, but don’t avoid seeking the help of a professional if you believe it might be needed. However, this must be done at a pace that suits the young person. 

It is Never Too Late to Reach Out

If you feel that someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, it is essential that they have a supportive environment and you seek the help of a professional. At Calm Rehab Centre, we believe it is never too late, and everyone can get the support they need to get them back on the right path. Contact us today if you believe anyone you know is going through a crisis. 

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