Drug problems happen when people use drugs in a way that harms them
or causes them to harm others. People can misuse illegal drugs, prescription
drugs, or over-the-counter drugs.
Most of the time, a drug problem
starts with casual use. You or your teen may not think there will be a problem
if the drug is used once or twice. But drug use can become a drug problem and
dependency, and it sometimes happens quickly.
Drugs change the
brain's structure and how it works. Teens who continue to use drugs may develop
a strong need, or craving, for the drug, and it may get harder to say "no" to
drug use. Your teen may start to find drugs more fun than anything else. Or
your teen may want to stop using drugs but can't. He or she may become dependent on a drug.
If your teen becomes dependent, the drug controls his
or her life. Your teen may continue to use the drug even though it can harm
relationships, lead to trouble with the law, and/or cause physical problems.
Teens may use drugs for many reasons. They
may want to:
Drug use affects the brain and causes change in
your teen's alertness, perception, movement, judgment, and attention. These
changes may make your teen more likely to:
You may worry that your teen is using
drugs if he or she becomes withdrawn or negative. But remember that these
behaviours are common for teens. Do not accuse your teen unfairly. Try to
discover why your teen's behaviour has changed by telling him or her that you
Look for a pattern or a number of changes. Your teen
may have a drug problem if he or she:
You can teach your teen these ways to say "no" if he or she is
Treatment for drug problems or dependency usually includes group
therapy, one or more types of counselling, and drug education. Sometimes
medicines are used to help a teen quit. Teens who are dependent on drugs may
need medical treatment and may need to stay in a hospital or treatment
Treatment focuses on more than drugs. It also helps your
teen cope with the anger, frustration, sadness, and disappointment that often
happen when a person tries to stop using drugs.
Treatment also looks at other parts of your teen's life, like
relationships with friends and family, school and work, medical problems, and
living situation. It helps you and your teen find and manage problems.
Treatment helps your teen take control of life so that he or she doesn't have
to depend on drugs.
A drug problem affects the whole family.
Family counselling often is part of treatment.
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Current as of:
November 3, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Christine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health
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