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What about treating teenagers?

Great question! It is true that drug abuse and drug dependence usually start in adolescence. It is true the there is no shortage of adolescents who have alcohol and drug abuse and dependence. We agree with NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) in Bethesda Maryland in that there is a gap in treatment options for youth.

These may be seen as developmental disorders, recent research suggests. We all can relate to the physical growth spurts, the intellectual and emotional growth spurts, the hormonal surges and urges of adolescence. Young brains may be functioning well cognitively, but poorly in judgment and decision making. Some animal research indicates that the pathways linking the midbrain (more basic drives) and the forebrain (higher level planning) are still immature. This might be seen as having a functional car, but with the brakes working only intermittently.

An additional huge problem looms. Developing brains may be developing dependence to multiple substances more rapidly and permanently. Drug dependence is also more closely linked to teens who smoke cigarettes, with a three to four times higher rate of alcohol use found in teens who smoke 15 or more per day. That is regular brand cigarettes, and not the marijuana type. This has serious health consequences on its own.

Adults in the community who keep themselves healthy and thereby provide healthier homes, adult role models, and communities are helping teens. For youth who have been sent to residential CD treatment, coming back home may be easier if fewer in their immediate circles are still plagued with untreated addiction. There are specialized treatment facilities for teens. Learn more on WYNK flash videos.

by: Lois Cochrane Schlutter, Ph.D. L.P.

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