Teenage substance use, especially alcohol consumption, is becoming more widespread as peer pressure, environmental pressures, a desire for independence, and attempting to deal with emotional problems all encourage youngsters to drink. According to a 2017 poll on teenage risk behavior, 14% of high school students binge drank, 30% of them drank moderately, 6% of them drove after drinking, and 17% of them traveled with a driver who had been drinking.
While research has shown that drinking in teens can be an indication of underlying mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, it is not uncommon for people to mistake it for just being a sign of adolescent experimentation. The National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that 6 out of 10 substance abusers also have a mental condition. Because these co-occurring disorders are so common, learning about the connection between depression and substance addiction and its effects will help you figure out the best way to support your daughter if she is going through these difficulties.
Because drinking or using drugs might help some teenagers with mental health issues feel more at ease in social circumstances and inside their own brains, they may do so more frequently. Teenagers may feel more at ease using alcohol as a form of self-medication than using prescribed medications like antidepressants because drinking is considered acceptable. Others use alcohol or other drugs to feel better or to lessen the irritation they experience from depression. It can appear to be a useful coping method if they are offered what appears to be an escape from the depression symptoms and bad thoughts they are experiencing.
Because alcohol and other drugs activate the same brain regions as mental health illnesses do, they temporarily seem to lessen the undesirable negative mental health symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, over time, youth experience worse symptoms than they did before using the medications, which can have serious consequences like suicidal ideation, substance abuse, or addiction. Adolescents are especially at risk because they are more likely than adults to have the rapid onset of a serious substance use disorder. Addiction can develop even more quickly in teenagers who already have a mental health condition than it does in other children. If not treated, at least half of all adolescents who have been diagnosed with a mental health illness will also develop a substance abuse issue.
How Teenage Brains Are Affected by Alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the central nervous system’s activity. Due to how alcohol affects the developing teenage brain, this can be especially risky for those who are underage drinkers. Alcohol usually has less of a detrimental impact on teenagers than it does on adults. This might increase teen binge drinking (four to five or more drinks at a time).
Additional mental repercussions of teen drinking include:
- Alcohol slows down brain function, and its harmful effects can last up to two weeks longer in a teenager’s brain than in an adult’s.
- The area of the teenage brain that regulates judgment, conduct, and impulse control can be impacted by alcohol even at modest doses.
- There is a 40% risk that children who start drinking before age 15 will have their brains “programmed” for alcoholism.
- Learning and memory can be impacted by some of the most severe brain damage brought on by alcohol. According to tests, persons who start drinking alcohol as teenagers struggle as adults to perform basic activities like reading a map or putting together projects. Teens who drink alcohol may experience changes in their psychological health in addition to physical ones.
Alcohol’s Mental and Emotional Effects on Teens
Teenagers who experiment with alcohol may use alcohol to mask their concern over a challenging situation in their life. However, regular drinking can be dangerous. Alcohol might momentarily lessen anxiety, but it can also make it worse within a few hours of drinking. Even moderate alcohol consumption might have an anxiety-inducing effect that lingers throughout the next day.
Psychological Perils of Minor Alcohol Use:
- Alcohol usage in teenagers increases the likelihood of adult mental health issues such as depression, suicide, and psychosis.
- 39 percent of 12- to 17-year-old current drinkers had severe behavioral issues, and 31% showed extremely high levels of psychological distress.
- Teenagers who consume alcohol are more prone to have poor impulse control, which may result in dangerous sexual conduct or violent outbursts.
- Teenage drinking’s physical repercussions might result in other types of substance abuse as well. Cannabis usage is 22 times more likely in underage drinkers, while cocaine use is 50 times more likely in them.
With all of the potentially harmful effects of having depression and substance use disorders together, it’s critical to get adolescent patients the care they require as soon as possible to avoid lasting effects.
How to Help Your Teen Who Does Drugs and Suffers From Depression
Treatment for an addiction and depression co-occurring diagnosis can take a variety of forms, from the more conventional approach of treating the addiction first and then the depression to more cutting-edge approaches that simultaneously treat both conditions to lower the risk of relapse in either condition.
Finding treatment that prioritizes treating both diseases simultaneously is crucial for youth in particular to prevent either disorder from sliding between the cracks. Additionally, because the stress they experience during standard addiction treatment programs like the 12-step recovery model can be detrimental to recovery, kids who have been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders often don’t succeed in them.
When treating both problems concurrently, practitioners frequently use cognitive behavioral therapy or DBT with medication to help manage both depression and substance withdrawal symptoms. Teens have been found to respond particularly well to programs that foster healthy social bonds. This can include interpersonal therapy, which can play a significant role in emotional support and skill-building that aids teens in coping with the unpleasant emotions connected to mental illness and substance abuse.
The care your teen needs to be successful on her healing path can be obtained from Evangelhouse if she is dealing with the co-occurring diseases of depression and substance misuse.
Evangelhoue Is Here To Help
We specialize in assisting young women on their road toward healing by combining a distinctive combination of therapeutic procedures with a healthy peer community founded on Christian values. Evangelhouse is one of the top behavioral healthcare facilities for girls in grades 6 through 12. We work to give adolescent girls the confidence to believe in themselves by giving them the resources and inspiration needed to implant these beliefs for life.
We provide treatment for teenagers who are struggling with a range of issues including previous trauma, loss, mental disorders, and addictive behaviors. Evangelhouse is a committed group of therapeutic professionals with specialized training and experience working with trauma, grief, and addiction. We have a track record of helping young women who are dealing with a range of issues successfully. Please call for further details on how Evangelhouse may assist.