Teenage Risk Factors

Teenage Risk Factors for Drug and Alcohol Use

Despite well-publicized risks, many teenagers cannot resist the perceived thrill of experimenting with

drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, recreational usage too often turns into habituated consumption of

these substances.

Once that occurs in the teenage years, it is more likely that the teen will engage in

adverse behavior related to substance abuse and risk experiencing one or more negative long-term or

permanent effects.

Although recent statistics reveal a promising decline in illicit substance use among teens, over a million

American teens reportedly have a drug use disorder with an additional 915,000 teenagers struggling

with alcohol dependence issues.

These statistics are further re-enforced by a report from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug

Dependence that shows alcohol and drugs as the leading contributors to teenage suicide, crime among

youth and lower grade averages. It is also a well-documented fact that risk factors associated with

substance abuse increases as the number of use opportunities increase.

Other sources indicate that…

a) The highest rate of illegal drug use occurs between the age of 18 to 20.

b) More than five million teenagers are affected by binge drinking which is defined as consuming

four or more drinks in a single sitting.

c) 25 percent of all teens between the age of 13 and 17 say they have friends who use drugs in

some form such as marijuana, prescription pills or by inhaling toxic fumes from paint, computer

cleaner or glue.

d) New York University researchers also found that high school seniors who use heroin were also

more likely to engage in polydrug use.

There is no single factor that influences substance use among teens. However, studies show the physical

and emotional changes that occur during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood as the

most vulnerable period for drug and alcohol use among teens. Researcher also highlights “exposure” to

drugs and alcohol as well as “expectancy” for the euphoria provided by these substances as common

motivators that contribute to teenage drinking and experimentation with drugs.

Major risk factors of drug and alcohol use that begins in adolescence include:

● Impairing the development of the prefrontal cortex in the brain that is responsible for critical

thinking, risk assessment, impulse control, and organization.

● Problems with the myelin sheath formation which is directly related to brain signaling.

MDMA (Molly or Ecstasy) has been linked to lowered serotonin levels which are associated with

emotional wellbeing. Studies indicate that the impact of MDMA on serotonin levels could last

for as much as seven years.

● Regular alcohol and/or binge drinking in teens has been shown to negatively impact

problem-solving abilities, vocabulary, memory, understanding of spatial relationships and

emotional well-being.

● Recurring delinquency and other social problems with family members, peers, and the greater


● Increased risk of sexual assaults, rapes, unwanted pregnancy and contracting a sexually

transmitted disease. These risk factors can cause significant, and long-term effects on mental

health, childbearing for women and sexual dysfunction in men. Some studies also indicate that

these ill effects could last longer for teenage girls.

● Contributes to substance use disorders that can follow teens into adulthood.

Due to the rapid neurological changes occurring in the brain between puberty and adolescence, drug

use choices made during these developmental years can have negative long-term effects.

Ebb Tide Treatment Centers

We at Ebb Tide Treatment Centers believe alcoholics and addicts can and do recover. Recovering from

active addiction (Substance Abuse Disorder) does not have to be a long, painful process. With the help

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400 Executive Center Dr. Suite 209
West Palm Beach, FL 33410



1. https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/underage-issues/the-real-story-about-alcohol-and-oth


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