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Factors that spur drug-seeking behavior in adolescents

Adolescence is a phase when the human body goes through a lot of changes. Involving a lot of critical developments, both physical and mental, it shapes the life of the individual. Ironically, it is also an age when the teens love to try new things or start using one substance or the other to overcome the challenges posed by bodily changes or under peer pressure. The early initiation of drug use potentially augments the risk of developing substance use disorders (SUDs) by interfering with the ongoing neurodevelopment that brings about unfavorable neurobiological changes. That’s the reason, teenage paves the way for SUDs for many.

Usually, adolescents start using drugs for recreational purposes as they pick the habit from their friends, or due to dysfunctional family and other challenges at school. Besides these socioeconomic factors, one runs an increased chance of developing SUDs due to biological reasons. While one may be more prone to indulging in drug-seeking behavior due to his or her genes, others may not exhibit the similar tendencies.

When the effects of both genetics and external reasons are pronounced, one is at a greater risk of developing an SUD. Other factors, such as quirkiness of the prefrontal cortex, habit formation and the nature of stress systems, together play a significant role in pushing a person toward substance abuse. To prevent the occurrence of SUDs, it is essential to identify the risks at the earliest and act on them.

Risk factors for developing addiction

Addiction is not a communicable disease as it does not involve the transfer of contagions through air, water, touch, etc. On the contrary, it is a disorder of the brain that requires meeting a specific set of criteria to be accurately diagnosed. Some traits that uniquely endanger a person to develop a drug problem are as follows:

  • Early exposure to drug use: When adolescents experiment with drugs, it significantly affects the development of their bodies and brain. As a person’s body and mind continue to mature until he or she hits adulthood, using substances during this phase increases the likelihood of developing an addiction that can persist until adulthood.
  • Peer pressure: In order to fit in with their friends, most adolescents are under tremendous peer pressure to experiment with drugs and other substances. It is often difficult to go against the peer pressure due to the fear of isolation. Therefore, most adolescents succumb to it and give in to drugs.
  • Dysfunctional family dynamics: A house is not a home when it is an unhappy place and family ties are extremely weak. In such cases, children are more likely to use drugs because of increased neglect, mistreatment, misunderstanding, traumatic memories, etc.
  • Social, academic and professional challenges: Many individuals experience an aggravated level of hardships and stress at work or school. They also face problems in making friends. As a result, they often feel that substances, such as alcohol and drugs, are the only options left to comfort their minds and alleviate their agony.
  • Psychiatric illnesses: There is a strong relationship between SUDs and mental disorders due to a bidirectional relationship. Individuals coping with the symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health challenges are more likely to be predisposed to self-medicate themselves with substances and develop SUDs.

While many individuals are likely to experience some of the above mentioned factors, it is not necessary that they will develop a drug problem. At the same time, even if people do not display similar risk factors, it does not make it safe to use drugs.

Aim for stars, not for drugs

Studies suggest that every individual has the neurobiological potential to become addicted to various substances. It is essential to counsel children from an early age to dissuade them from falling prey to substance abuse. It is also necessary to keep tabs on their activities to identify the warning signs of drug abuse. Parents and teachers can play a pivotal role in safeguarding children from the repercussions of substance abuse and other malpractices.

If you or your loved one is battling an addiction to drugs, it is important to seek help. Florida Drug Addiction Helpline assists in accessing the finest addiction treatment centers in Florida that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-982-2401 or chat online to know more about the drug rehabilitation centers in Florida.