Untreated Mental Illnesses: Why Teens Often Resort to Self-Medication

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It is fair to say that teens have a bit of a reputation when it comes to demonstrating a fair degree of emotional intensity and even unpredictability, but these mood swings are perfectly understandable when you consider the hormonal changes they are trying to contend with.

However, even after you have made allowances for these typical behavioral trends it can sometimes tip over into more troubling responses that include experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

Centers that offer drug and alcohol rehab for teens report a definite link between mental health problems in teens that have not been addressed and a tendency to turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.

Here is a look at some of the fundamental reasons why teens can often resort to self-medication.

A perceived escape route

Teens are considered to be especially vulnerable to the perceived opportunity to escape reality and dampen any emotional turmoil they are experiencing that drugs and alcohol appear to offer.

Combined with the perceived attraction of doing something that they believe defines them as an adult and might even be seen as a rite of passage, it is easy to see why they might turn to substances in the first place.

The major problem for parents is that spotting emotional wounds in their son or daughter is not an easy thing to do. The problem could have become an addiction before anyone realizes that a teen has turned to drugs or alcohol as a way of turning off this emotional pain.

Peer pressure

The impact of peer pressure on behavior should never be underestimated in a teen and if they are suffering from mental health challenges, it can make the decision to succumb to the pressure and try these substances a lot easier, in their mind.

It can often be the case that teens turn to substance abuse as a result of feeling they need to fit in. The addictive problems can escalate from that initial introduction.

A challenging time in their life

It is a fundamental aspect of the teenage years that your body and mind are changing and evolving, especially when you consider that there are so many life transitions to contend with.

Anxiety is often induced by these life changes and drug usage becomes a way to escape or cope with these challenges.

Many teens do not understand the potential long-term consequences of their decision to experiment with drugs and alcohol, often until it is too late and addiction has developed.

Setting the tone for a future of addictive behavior

Mental health issues always need to be recognized and tackled as soon as possible especially when it comes to teens.

A big problem is that it has been shown that when a teen starts using substances they could be unwittingly creating a blueprint that can easily lead to a series of damaging addictions later in life.

Teens turn to self-medication in response to worsening mental health disorders that are not treated as soon as they come to light. Recognizing a clear link between untreated mental illnesses and substance abuse is an important step in helping to guide teens through these transformational years.


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