Young adults face numerous social pressures in school and among their peer group. Adolescence is often a time when teens try to define and solidify their identities as well as test their boundaries; sometimes this involves defiance of parents and other authority figures as well as experimentation with substances. For example, David and Nic Sheff – a father and son – recently published books about their individual struggles with Nic's addiction to meth in order to bring more attention to the increasing problem of teenage substance abuse and addiction in America. Importantly, parental interest and involvement is crucial to catching and stopping substance abuse and addiction (Read How to Talk to a Teen about Drugs).

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What substances do young adults commonly abuse?

Alcohol has been a popular substance of abuse among teens; although they are underage, teens have resorted to fake IDs, older friends, or sneaking it from their parents' liquor cabinets to enjoy in a private place. Cigarette smoking has also been a traditional avenue of experimentation among teens. But adolescents who are growing up in the 21st century face increased social pressure to try many other substances like marijuana, meth, cocaine, heroin, and other substances.

There are two trends of substance use among teens that are particularly worthy of parents' attention. In both cases, the substances are commonly found in homes, and easy access to these substances might increase the chances that teens will try them. First, some teens experiment with and develop addictions to prescription medications. They may raid the medicine cabinets of family and friends (called "pharming") and then attend a "pharm party" where they mix the pills that they have acquired in a bowl and sample them to see their effect (Read Parents & Pills: Unintentional Drug Dealers). Some websites even provide "recipes" for highs by mixing different colors of pills. This dangerous behavior could result in an overdose or a negative drug interaction. Also, children and teens are increasingly abusing certain household products (like gasoline, solvents, thinners, and aerosols) by inhaling their vapors.

Parents should also be aware that their teens might become addicted to certain behaviors like sex or gambling. Also, because they are developing physically during this time, young adults may develop anxieties about and negative perceptions of their body image, and an eating disorder may result. Depending on the circumstances, these behaviors can be just as dangerous and damaging as addiction to a substance.

How common is teen substance abuse and addiction?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA.gov) conducts surveys about numerous topics related to substance abuse and addiction of children, teens, and adults. Survey data from 2005 and 2006 indicated that 28.3% of underage drinkers (ages 12-20) had consumed alcohol in the past month. According to SAMHSA, 6.7% of young adults (ages 12-17) reported using marijuana in the past month in 2007. In 2007, 5.4% of adolescents met the criteria for abuse or dependence on alcohol and 4.3% met the criteria for abuse or dependence on an illicit substance. Also in 2007, 1.2% of young adults reported using inhalants in the past month, and 3.3% reported using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past month. Although most of these numbers represent declines from a few years ago, parents should still pay attention to their teen's behavior.

How can I confirm that my teen is abusing or addicted to a substance?

Most addicts become good at hiding their problem from others, so that by the time you notice that something is wrong, the addiction might be far advanced. Some parents use at-home drug testing kits to determine if their child has been using recently; there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to these kits (Read Drug Testing in Your Home: Pros & Cons). Adolescence is a time that can be marked by moodiness and defiant behavior; but, in general, extreme mood, behavior, or physical changes (for example, weight gain or loss) might be a sign of substance abuse. Look for drug paraphernalia or other evidence – like joints, bongs, pipes, empty bottles of alcohol, prescription drug containers, syringes, mirrors, razor blades, spoons, lighters, and straws or other tube-shaped objects (like rolled dollar bills). eDrugRehab has compiled information on the signs of recent use for specific substances: alcohol, marijuana, opiates, meth, and cocaine. Also, pay attention to your teen's choices of friends and social activities (like attending raves: Read Ecstasy and Rave Culture), and research the slang associated with the substance that you suspect your teenager is abusing (Read Substance "Slang" You Should Know).

What treatment options are available for teens?

In general, there are a number of treatment types available for addicts from any background and of any age, including options to fit your budget. However, because adolescents are in a different stage of emotional, psychological, and physical development than are adults, a rehab facility that specializes in the treatment of teens may be your best option. Teens from Christian backgrounds may benefit from Christian teen rehab programs.

Because substance abuse among teenagers often begins as a result of stress (like parents' divorcing, poor academic performance, or lost romantic interests) or social pressures, teen rehab will equip the young adult with healthy coping mechanisms and ways to participate in social activities without feeling the need to use substances. Teen drug or alcohol rehab will also address any other underlying issues that may be contributing to the addiction; these may include low self-esteem, co-dependent relationships, or past traumatic experiences that have never been fully resolved.

How can I find a rehab facility for my teen?

eDrugRehab has worked with many families to arrange and implement interventions, find rehab facilities (Read What to Ask a Rehab Facility), and take the first step on the path to recovery. If your teen is struggling with an addiction, eDrugRehab can help. Because addiction is a complex physical and psychological problem, it almost always requires the assistance of medical and other professionals to both safely and effectively overcome.