Substance Abuse At Different Ages

It seems that every waking moment we spend in front of the TV watching our favorite shows, magazines we thumb through while sitting in an office building, listening to the radio while driving around, or surfing the internet, we are influenced one way or another. We’ll see or hear an about a product that peeks our interests. We may go out and see someone with that product and think, “well that looks cool” and do a little more investigating just because our curiosity gets revved up. Eventually, we’ll get to that pivotal moment when it’s “Do or Don’t”. If we’re young, that’s usually the time that peer pressure kicks in. If we’re older (and hopefully wiser), that’s when anxiety may start up. Either way, it’s a real bully.

Hypothetically, we’re all led to one thing or another. Usually, if we stay focused and don’t get sidetracked by the daily stress caused by life’s little surprises or the pile up of “gotcha” moments, we can stay on a straight path. Living life is hard enough without adding more complications to it. Don’t get me wrong, we all want to be accepted for who we are at some point in our life. Doing that may involve us in doing things we wouldn’t normally take on, including alcohol and drugs. Even though we all bend under pressure, new research insinuates that teens with a strong ability to focus on tasks and ignore distractions are more likely to avoid substance abuse issues after early drug experimentation.

Pills, Powder, & Whiskey
Pills, Powder, & Alcohol

Researchers at the University of Oregon believe the positive traits are components of a strong working memory that assist teens in staying on task and process relevant information that keeps them determined toward their goal. In collaboration with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, researchers evaluated their findings from a study of 382 adolescents in a mostly at-risk urban population. The results provided an extraordinary look into the beginning stages of an adolescents’ use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. They focused their in-depth study on children aged 11 to 13 year old as they began to explore risky, behavior experiences that often mark the road to independence and adulthood.

What the research showed was it’s more plausible that young children exposed or experiment with drugs can lead to an active drug use among young people that have impulsive tendencies not repressed by strong working memory ability. Could this mean that during the early stages of drug use it’s more of a distraction that later could become an addiction? The reason why this research is important is that in previous studies, investigators generally had to rely solely on adult’s reminiscence of when they began experimenting with early drug use and what is thought to be a marker of later substance abuse problems.

By the time they reach twelfth grade, about half of adolescents have already abused an illicit drug at least once, most commonly marijuana. Others have found other substances to get their highs, such as prescription medications. The study also suggests that if teens are performing poorly on working memory tasks that tap into executive attention, they are more likely to engage in impulsive drug-use

Teens hooked on drugs have less chance for earning a diploma.
Teens hooked on drugs have less chance of earning a diploma.

behaviors. The authors of this study advocate a family environment strong in disciplined routines could help strengthen memory skills. It’s also possible for older children that interventions could be constructed with activities that inspire problem-solving skills needed for evaluating consequences of decisions.

Alcohol is the substance abused most frequently by teenagers, followed by marijuana and tobacco trailing behind. According to the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) in their recent survey, they found that 39 percent of high school seniors reported drinking some alcohol, almost 23 percent reported using marijuana, and 16 percent reported smoking cigarettes. Almost four out of 10 high school seniors report drinking some alcohol and more than one in five have engaged in “binge drinking” within an average of two weeks time. Even though these numbers are rather high, it has dropped down some from 8.9 percent to 5.2 percent for young people between the ages of 12 and 17 between 2002 and 2013.

It is a sad fact that substance use remains a behavioral health problem among young adults aged 18 to 25. There’s seems to be a growing trend of users willing to use just about any illicit drug, but alcohol is beating that. According to SAMHSA, it was estimated there were 35.6 million young adults aged between 18 and 25 in the United States in 2012. Of all these young adults, more than one-third reported binge alcohol use in the past month; about one-fifth used an illicit drug in the past month. In addition, the percentage of young adults reporting past month binge alcohol use declined between 2008 and 2012, but the percentage reporting past month illicit drug use increased during the same time period.

The proportion of people aged 18 to 25 receiving substance abuse treatment had remained stable between the years 2002 and 2012. The ratio of young adults seen in emergency rooms for the use of illicit drugs and the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals increased between the years of 2005 and 2011. In the U.S. alone, the CDC reports that around one in six adults binge drinks about four times each month. Although these numbers should be a wake-up call, not everyone is concerned about the risk. So let’s think about it for a moment; on top of the risk of overdose, what else is there to worry about in the long term? You know, beyond the next 24 hours?

Some emerging research from the University of Missouri suggests binge drinking can lead to changes in liver proteins that may result in cirrhosis and cancer. Researchers discovered the over-consumption of alcohol is one of the most common causes of chronic liver failure, in which is irreversible, especially if it’s over a long period of time all the while causing genetic changes of the liver tissue. To put it bluntly, the human liver is one of the main organs in the body. When it comes to binge drinking, you could say it gets a serious workout trying to filter your blood, in the process of getting damage done repeatedly without any time to rest.

However, the liver isn’t the only organ to be damaged in this process, other major organs such as the heart, brain, kidney, and even the blood vessels can get worn out.

Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States according to the CDC.
Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States according to the CDC.

With all this harm in mind, it’s no wonder doctors and other medical experts all believe alcohol abuse is linked with high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and digestive problems. After analyzing all the data, researchers believe the discovery could lead to treatments for alcohol-related liver diseases.

Many factors and strategies can help potential users stay drug-free, such as strong positive connections with parents, other family members, school, work, and religion. For children, perhaps having parents present in the home at key times of the day and reduced access in the home to illegal substances. All though, should you have any doubts, Rapid Detect is here for your drug and alcohol testing needs. We can offer you simple and reliable alcohol tests like the Alco-Screen Saliva Test Strips to check most fluids with. If you wish to test for both drugs and alcohol at the same time, then we have the Rapid Detect SDS 7 Panel test available (for Forensic Use Only). If you have any questions, feel free to call and speak with one of our friendly knowledgeable customer service representative’s weekdays from 8 am to 4 pm CDT or email them at anytime. Our website is full of resourceful information that can help you.