Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
How does substance abuse affect education and work opportunities

Drug abuse among young adults and teenagers has detrimental effects on their academic performance and future prospects. A young person’s brain does not stop developing until 25; therefore, anything that disrupts this process, such as substance abuse, can cause delays in learning and other important life factors.

Young people are incredibly susceptible to the long and short-term cognitive effects resulting from substance abuse. At the same time, the emotional and social repercussions will further increase risk factor problems involving school and education. Young adults and teenagers need to understand the severe effects and implications of drug abuse along with the life-changing consequences.

Illicit drug use and brain development

Due to the neurodevelopment process that occurs during young adult and teenage years, these individuals become significantly more likely to begin taking high risks, including drug and alcohol usage.

Many drugs are known to cause a significant risk of developing a substance abuse disorder later in life, even if a young adult only tries the drug once in their younger years. If an individual suffers from long and short-term trauma, chronic stress, or other forms of mental disorders during the early brain development, this can further increase an individual’s likelihood of developing substance abuse later in life.

A specific drug category will completely overload the brain with dopamine, often referred to as the feel-good or euphoric neurotransmitter; it plays a significant role in the feelings of happiness and pleasure. When an individual’s brain becomes overloaded with high dopamine levels, the brain will automatically respond by naturally producing less dopamine for the individual’s body. The more the individual carries on abusing the drug, the higher the chance they begin not to feel anything but sadness, guilt, and other negative emotions until they have consumed the drug they are addicted to. The type of drug being abused will determine how long it takes the brain to re-adjust to its regular functioning balance.

Adolescents will have underdeveloped brains until they reach age 25; however, parental involvement and education can significantly reduce an individual’s risk of abusing drugs and alcohol. Young adults and teenagers who are brought up being educated about drugs, alcohol, and the repercussions are 50% less likely to begin experimenting than individuals who are not spoken to about these subjects.

Social and emotional implications

Drug and alcohol abuse among young adults and teenagers pose multiple risk factors in social settings. Risk factors can be seen to include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble navigating significant life changes
  • Family or community settings

Teenagers and young adults who begin abusing drugs and alcohol will more than not become part of an anti-social group and are often less likely to value the education given to them, social prosperity, or structure within their life. These individuals will often begin displaying typical behavior such as:

  • Not turning up to school
  • Missing lesions
  • Thieving
  • Cheating on tests
  • Dropping out
  • Complete disregard for social norms

These behavioral signs will bond the group together and further isolate them from the rest of the world, which will ultimately deepen their substance abuse and eventually lead to full-blown addiction. These actions will create a desire for belonging while alienating everyone who isn’t part of the inner circle. Long friendships like these will often never have a positive outcome, with individuals realizing they have a problem years too late after they were meant to have graduated from high school.

What parents need to know

Parents play a significant role in preventing their child’s risk factor of experimenting or abusing drugs and alcohol, which is why parents must promote academic success and hobbies other than partying and drinking to ensure their children are educated before they reach the stage where the peer pressure starts.

Scientific evidence has made it clear that drug use and alcohol are significant risk factors for the individual’s life opportunities. The earlier the young adults are exposed to drugs and alcohol, the higher the likelihood of the individual developing a problem later on in life.

Parents need to be armed and ready with an array of skills, strategies, and boundaries to prevent their children from falling into the path of addiction. Both the parents and young adults need to understand and be able to identify the warning signs of someone who may be struggling with an alcohol or drug problem. If your child has begun having difficulties fitting into school or is stressed due to the school criteria, the parents will need to sit down with their child and figure out how to support them emotionally and mentally to ensure they do not turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

When to find help

There are various signs you may begin noticing if you or a loved one has been suffering from drug or alcohol abuse. Each of us has our own tolerance to these substances; therefore, you may see a sign in one loved one that does not show in another; unfortunately, there is no universal indicator to show someone suffering from addiction. If a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, they should reach out for help the minute that they realize. If their addiction has begun to affect their relationships, education, career, and overall safety, then it is prime time to advise them to receive help immediately. Below we have listed a few common examples of behaviors to look out for that may indicate an individual is struggling with substance abuse:

  • Poor academic performance for a substantial period
  • Missing school regularly
  • Becoming socially isolated from friends and loved ones
  • Using drugs regularly
  • Acting out emotionally can be seen to include:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Sadness
    • Anger
  • Rejecting the input from loved ones and friends
  • Pressuring others to start doing drugs
  • Using drugs to feel better or destress from life
  • Taking risks that have the potential for severe risks

Help is available for anyone who is mentally ready to take the step into sobriety.

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