Adolescent Drug/Alcohol Abuse
Teens & Alcohol--

Just about everyone knows that the legal drinking age throughout the United States is 21. But according to the National Center
on Addiction and Substance Abuse, almost 80% of high school students have tried alcohol.

Why Do Teens Drink?

Experimentation with alcohol during the teen years is common. Some reasons that teens use alcohol and other drugs are:

·     curiosity
·     to feel good, reduce stress, and relax
·     to fit in
·     to feel older

From a very young age, kids see advertising messages showing beautiful people enjoying life — and alcohol. And because
many parents and other adults use alcohol socially — having beer or wine with dinner, for example — alcohol seems harmless
to many teens.

Why Shouldn't I Drink?

Although it's illegal to drink alcohol in the United States until the age of 21, most teens can get access to it. It's therefore up to
you to make a decision about drinking. In addition to the possibility of becoming addicted, there are some downsides to drinking:

  • The punishment is severe. Teens who drink put themselves at risk for obvious problems with the law (it's illegal; you can
    get arrested). Teens who drink are also more likely to get into fights and commit crimes than those who don't.

  • People who drink regularly also often have problems with school. Drinking can damage a student's ability to study well
    and get decent grades, as well as affect sports performance (the coordination thing).

  • You can look really stupid. The impression is that drinking is cool, but the nervous system changes that come from
    drinking alcohol can make people do stupid or embarrassing things, like throwing up or peeing on themselves. Drinking
    also gives people bad breath, and no one enjoys a hangover.

  • Alcohol puts your health at risk. Teens who drink are more likely to be sexually active and to have unsafe, unprotected
    sex. Resulting pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases can change — or even end — lives. The risk of injuring
    yourself, maybe even fatally, is higher when you're under the influence, too. One half of all drowning deaths among teen
    guys are related to alcohol use. Use of alcohol greatly increases the chance that a teen will be involved in a car crash,
    homicide, or suicide.

  • Teen drinkers are more likely to get fat or have health problems, too. One study by the University of Washington found
    that people who regularly had five or more drinks in a row starting at age 13 were much more likely to be overweight or
    have high blood pressure by age 24 than their non-drinking peers. People who continue drinking heavily well into
    adulthood risk damaging their organs, such as the liver, heart, and brain.

How Can I Avoid Drinking?

If all your friends drink and you don't want to, it can be hard to say "no, thanks." No one wants to risk feeling rejected or left out.
Different strategies for turning down alcohol work for different people. Some people find it helps to say no without giving an
explanation, others think offering their reasons works better ("I'm not into drinking," "I have a game tomorrow," or "my uncle died
from drinking," for example).

If saying no to alcohol makes you feel uncomfortable in front of people you know, blame your parents or another adult for your
refusal. Saying, "My parents are coming to pick me up soon," "I already got in major trouble for drinking once, I can't do it again,"
or "my coach would kill me," can make saying no a bit easier for some.

If you're going to a party and you know there will be alcohol, plan your strategy in advance. You and a friend can develop a
signal for when it's time to leave, for example. You can also make sure that you have plans to do something besides just
hanging out in someone's basement drinking beer all night. Plan a trip to the movies, the mall, a concert, or a sports event. You
might also organize your friends into a volleyball, bowling, or softball team, any activity that gets you moving.

Girls or guys who have strong self-esteem are less likely to become problem drinkers than people with low self-esteem.

Where Can I Get Help?

If you think you have a drinking problem, get help as soon as possible. The best approach is to talk to an adult you trust. If you
can't approach your parents, talk to your doctor, school counselor, clergy member, aunt, or uncle. It can be hard for some
people to talk to adults about these issues, but a supportive person in a position to help can refer students to a drug and
alcohol counselor for evaluation and treatment.

In some states, this treatment is completely confidential. After assessing a teen's problem, a counselor may recommend a brief
stay in
rehab or outpatient treatment. These treatment centers help a person gradually overcome the physical and
psychological dependence on alcohol.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Alcohol first acts as a stimulant, and then it makes people feel relaxed and a bit sleepy.

·        High doses of alcohol seriously affect judgment and coordination. Drinkers may have slurred speech, confusion,
depression, short-term memory loss, and slow reaction times.

·        Large volumes of alcohol drunk in a short period of time may cause alcohol poisoning.


Teens who use alcohol can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress. In addition,
their bodies may demand more and more to achieve the same kind of high experienced in the beginning. Some teens are also
at risk of becoming physically addicted to alcohol. Withdrawal from alcohol can be painful and even life threatening. Symptoms
range from shaking, sweating, nausea, anxiety, and depression to hallucinations, fever, and convulsions.

In some states, treatment is completely confidential. After assessing a teen's problem, a counselor may recommend a brief stay
at an inpatient place such as Narconon Rehab or an outpatient treatment. These treatment centers help a person gradually
overcome the physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.
Teens & Drugs--

Thanks to medical and drug research, there are thousands of drugs that help people. Antibiotics and vaccines have
revolutionized the treatment of infections. Medicines can lower blood pressure, treat diabetes, and reduce the body's rejection
of new organs. Medicines can cure, slow, or prevent disease, helping us to lead healthier and happier lives. But there are also
lots of illegal, harmful drugs that people take to help them feel good or have a good time.

How do drugs work? Drugs are chemicals or substances that change the way our bodies work. When you put them into your
body (often by swallowing, inhaling, or injecting them), drugs find their way into your bloodstream and are transported to parts of
your body, such as your brain. In the brain, drugs may either intensify or dull your senses, alter your sense of alertness, and
sometimes decrease physical pain.

A drug may be helpful or harmful. The effects of drugs can vary depending upon the kind of drug taken, how much is taken, how
often it is used, how quickly it gets to the brain, and what other drugs, food, or substances are taken at the same time. Effects
can also vary based on the differences in body size, shape, and chemistry.

Although substances can feel good at first, they can ultimately do a lot of harm to the body and brain. Drinking alcohol, smoking
tobacco, taking illegal drugs, and sniffing glue can all cause serious damage to the human body. Some drugs severely impair a
person's ability to make healthy choices and decisions. Adolescents who drink, for example, are more likely to get involved in
dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence or having unprotected sex.

And just as there are many kinds of drugs available, there are as many reasons for trying them or starting to use them regularly.
People take drugs just for the pleasure they believe they can bring. Often it's because someone tried to convince them that
drugs would make them feel good or that they'd have a better time if they took them.

Some adolescents believe drugs will help them think better, be more popular, stay more active, or become better athletes.
Others are simply curious and figure one try won't hurt. Others want to fit in. A few use drugs to gain attention from their parents.

Many adolescents use drugs because they're depressed or think drugs will help them escape their problems. The truth is, drugs
don't solve problems — they simply hide feelings and problems. When a drug wears off, the feelings and problems remain, or
become worse. Drugs can ruin every aspect of a person's life.

Here are the facts on some of the more common drugs:


Amphetamines are stimulants that accelerate functions in the brain and body. They come in pills or tablets. Prescription diet pills
also fall into this category of drugs.

Street Names: speed, uppers, dexies, bennies

How They're Used: Amphetamines are swallowed, inhaled, or injected.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Prolonged use may cause hallucinations and intense paranoia.
·        Swallowed or snorted, these drugs hit users with a fast high, making them feel powerful, alert, and energized.
·        Uppers pump up heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, and they can also cause sweating, shaking, headaches,
sleeplessness, and blurred vision.

Addictiveness: Amphetamines are psychologically addictive. Users who stop report that they experience various mood problems
such as aggression, anxiety, and intense cravings for the drugs.

Cocaine and Crack—

Cocaine is a white crystalline powder made from the dried leaves of the coca plant. Crack, named for its crackle when heated, is
made from cocaine. It looks like white or tan pellets.

Street Names for Cocaine: coke, snow, blow, nose candy, white, big C

Street Names for Crack: freebase, rock

How They're Used: Cocaine is inhaled through the nose or injected.
Crack is smoked.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Injecting cocaine can give you hepatitis or AIDS if you share needles with other users. Snorting can also put a hole inside
the lining of your nose.
·        First-time users — even adolescents — of both cocaine and crack can stop breathing or have fatal heart attacks. Using
either of these drugs even one time can kill you.
·        Cocaine is a stimulant that rocks the central nervous system, giving users a quick, intense feeling of power and energy.
Snorting highs last between 15 and 30 minutes; smoking highs last between 5 and 10 minutes.
·        Cocaine also elevates heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.

Addictiveness: These drugs are highly addictive, and as a result, the drug, not the user, calls the shots. Even after one use,
cocaine and crack can create both physical and psychological cravings that make it very, very difficult for users to stop.

Cough and Cold Medicines (DXM)—

Several over-the-counter cough and cold medicines contain the ingredient dextromethorphan (also called DXM). If taken in large
quantities, these over-the-counter medicines can cause hallucinations, loss of motor control, and "out-of-body" (or
disassociative) sensations.

Street Names: triple C, candy, C-C-C, dex, DM, drex, red devils, robo, rojo, skittles, tussin, velvet, vitamin D

How They're Used: Cough and cold medicines, which come in tablets, capsules, gel caps, and lozenges as well as syrups, are
swallowed. DXM is often extracted from cough and cold medicines, put into powder form, and snorted.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Sometimes users mistakenly take cough syrups that contain other medications in addition to dextromethorphan. High
doses of these other medications can cause serious injury or death.
·        Small doses help suppress coughing, but larger doses can cause fever, confusion, impaired judgment, blurred vision,
dizziness, paranoia, excessive sweating, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, high blood
pressure, headache, lethargy, numbness of fingers and toes, redness of face, dry and itchy skin, loss of consciousness,
seizures, brain damage, and even death.

Addictiveness: People who use cough and cold medicines and DXM regularly to get high can become psychologically dependent
upon them (meaning they like the feeling so much they can't stop, even though they aren't physically addicted).


Depressants, such as tranquilizers and barbiturates, calm nerves and relax muscles. Many are legally available by prescription
(such as Valium and Xanax) and are bright-colored capsules or tablets.

Street Names: downers, goof balls, barbs, ludes

How They're Used: Depressants are swallowed.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Depressants and alcohol should never be mixed — this combination greatly increases the risk of overdose and death.
·        Larger doses can cause confusion, slurred speech, lack of coordination, and tremors.
·        Very large doses can cause a person to stop breathing and result in death.
·        When used as prescribed by a doctor and taken at the correct dosage, depressants can help people feel calm and
reduce angry feelings.

Addictiveness: Depressants can cause both psychological and physical dependence.

Ecstasy (MDMA)—

This is a designer drug created by underground chemists. It comes in powder, tablet, or capsule form. Ecstasy is a popular club
drug among adolescents because it is widely available at raves, dance clubs, and concerts.

Street Names: XTC, X, Adam, E, Roll

How It's Used: Ecstasy is swallowed or sometimes snorted.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Ecstasy also raises the temperature of the body. This increase can sometimes cause organ damage or even death.
·        Ecstasy can also cause dry mouth, cramps, blurred vision, chills, sweating, and nausea.
·        Many users also experience depression, paranoia, anxiety, and confusion. There is some concern that these effects on
the brain and emotion can become permanent with chronic use of ecstasy.
·        Sometimes users clench their jaws while using. They may chew on something (like a pacifier) to relieve this symptom.
·        This drug combines a hallucinogenic with a stimulant effect, making all emotions, both negative and positive, much more
·        Users feel a tingly skin sensation and an increased heart rate.

Addictiveness: Although the physical addictiveness of Ecstasy is unknown, adolescents who use it can become psychologically
dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress.


GHB, which stands for gamma hydroxybutyrate, is often made in home basement labs, usually in the form of a liquid with no odor
or color. It has gained popularity at dance clubs and raves and is a popular alternative to Ecstasy for some adolescents and
young adults. The number of people brought to emergency departments because of GHB side effects is quickly rising in the
United States. And according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), since 1995 GHB has killed more users than Ecstasy.

Street Names: Liquid Ecstasy, G, Georgia Home Boy

How It's Used: When in liquid or powder form (mixed in water), GHB is drunk; in tablet form it is swallowed.

Effects & Dangers:

·        The drug has several dangerous side effects, including severe nausea, breathing problems, decreased heart rate, and
·        Overdosing GHB requires emergency care in a hospital right away. Within an hour GHB overdose can cause coma and
stop someone's breathing, resulting in death.
·        GHB is a depressant drug that can cause both euphoric (high) and hallucinogenic effects.
·        GHB has been used for date rape because it is colorless and odorless and easy to slip into drinks.
·        GHB (even at lower doses) mixed with alcohol is very dangerous — using it even once can kill you.
·        At high doses, users can lose consciousness within minutes. It's also easy to overdose: There is only a small difference
between the dose used to get high and the amount that can cause an overdose.

Addictiveness: When users come off GHB they may have withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety. Adolescents may
also become dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress.


Heroin comes from the dried milk of the opium poppy, which is also used to create the class of painkillers called narcotics —
medicines like codeine and morphine. Heroin can range from a white to dark brown powder to a sticky, tar-like substance.

Street Names: horse, smack, Big H, junk

How It's Used: Heroin is injected, smoked, or inhaled (if it is pure).

Effects & Dangers:

·        With long-term use, heroin ravages the body. It is associated with chronic constipation, dry skin, scarred veins, and
breathing problems.
·        Users who inject heroin often have collapsed veins and put themselves at risk of getting deadly infections such as HIV,
hepatitis B or C, and bacterial endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart) if they share needles with other users.
·        Users feel the need to take more heroin as soon as possible just to feel good again.
·        Heroin gives you a burst of euphoric (high) feelings, especially if it's injected. This high is often followed by drowsiness,
nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.

Addictiveness: Heroin is extremely addictive and easy to overdose on (which can cause death). Withdrawal is intense and
symptoms include insomnia, vomiting, and muscle pain.


Inhalants are substances that are sniffed or "huffed" to give the user an immediate rush or high. They include household
products like glues, paint thinners, dry cleaning fluids, gasoline, felt-tip marker fluid, correction fluid, hair spray, aerosol
deodorants, and spray paint.

How It's Used: Inhalants are breathed in directly from the original container (sniffing or snorting), from a plastic bag (bagging),
or by holding an inhalant-soaked rag in the mouth (huffing).

Effects & Dangers:

·        Inhalants are the most likely of abused substances to cause severe toxic reaction and death. Using inhalants, even one
time, can kill you.
·        Inhalants make you feel giddy and confused, as if you were drunk. Long-time users get headaches, nosebleeds, and may
suffer loss of hearing and sense of smell.

Addictiveness: Inhalants can be very addictive. Adolescents who use inhalants can become psychologically dependent upon
them to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress.


Ketamine hydrochloride is a quick-acting anesthetic that is legally used in both humans (as a sedative for minor surgery) and
animals (as a tranquilizer). At high doses, it causes intoxication and hallucinations similar to LSD.

Street Names: K, Special K, vitamin K, bump, cat Valium

How It's Used: Ketamine usually comes in powder that users snort. Users often do it along with other drugs such as Ecstasy
(called kitty flipping) or cocaine or sprinkle it on marijuana blunts.

Effects & Dangers:

·        At higher doses, ketamine causes movement problems, body numbness, and slowed breathing.
·        Overdosing on ketamine can stop you from breathing — and kill you.
·        Users may become delirious, hallucinate, and lose their sense of time and reality. The trip — also called K-hole — that
results from ketamine use lasts up to 2 hours.
·        Users may become nauseated or vomit, become delirious, and have problems with thinking or memory.

Addictiveness: Adolescents who use it can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle


LSD (which stands for lysergic acid diethylamide) is a lab-brewed hallucinogen and mood-changing chemical. LSD is odorless,
colorless, and tasteless.

Street Names: acid, blotter, doses, microdots

How It's Used: LSD is licked or sucked off small squares of blotting paper. Capsules and liquid forms are swallowed. Paper
squares containing acid may be decorated with cute cartoon characters or colorful designs.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Bad trips may cause panic attacks, confusion, depression, and frightening delusions.
·        Hallucinations occur within 30 to 90 minutes of dropping acid. People say their senses are intensified and distorted — they
see colors or hear sounds with other delusions such as melting walls and a loss of any sense of time. But effects are
unpredictable, depending on how much LSD is taken and the user.
·        Once you go on an acid trip, you can't get off until the drug is finished with you — at times up to about 12 hours or even
·        Physical risks include sleeplessness, mangled speech, convulsions, increased heart rate, and coma.
·        Users often have flashbacks in which they feel some of the effects of LSD at a later time without having used the drug

Addictiveness: Adolescents who use it can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle


The most widely used illegal drug in the United States, marijuana resembles green, brown, or gray dried parsley with stems or
seeds. A stronger form of marijuana called hashish (hash) looks like brown or black cakes or balls. Marijuana is often called a
gateway drug because frequent use can lead to the use of stronger drugs.

Street Names: pot, weed, blunts, chronic, grass, reefer, herb, ganja

How It's Used: Marijuana is usually smoked — rolled in papers like a cigarette (joints), or in hollowed-out cigars (blunts), pipes
(bowls), or water pipes (bongs). Some people mix it into foods or brew it as a tea.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Marijuana also elevates heart rate and blood pressure. Some people get red eyes and feel very sleepy or hungry. The
drug can also make some people paranoid or cause them to hallucinate.
·        Marijuana can affect mood and coordination. Users may experience mood swings that range from stimulated or happy to
drowsy or depressed.
·        Marijuana is as tough on the lungs as cigarettes — steady smokers suffer coughs, wheezing, and frequent colds.

Addictiveness: Adolescents who use marijuana can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or
handle stress. In addition, their bodies may demand more and more marijuana to achieve the same kind of high experienced in
the beginning.


Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant.

Street Names: crank, meth, speed, crystal, chalk, fire, glass, crypto, ice

How It's Used: It can be swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Users sometimes have intense delusions such as believing that there are insects crawling under their skin.
·        Users feel a euphoric rush from methamphetamine, particularly if it is smoked or shot up. But they can develop tolerance
quickly — and will use more meth for longer periods of time, resulting in sleeplessness, paranoia, and hallucinations.
·        The chemicals used to make methamphetamine can also be dangerous to both people and the environment.
·        Prolonged use may result in violent, aggressive behavior, psychosis, and brain damage.

Addictiveness: Methamphetamine is highly addictive.


Nicotine is a highly addictive stimulant found in tobacco. This drug is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream when smoked.

How It's Used: Nicotine is typically smoked in cigarettes or cigars. Some people put a pinch of tobacco (called chewing or
smokeless tobacco) into their mouths and absorb nicotine through the lining of their mouths.

Effects & Dangers:

·        Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, anger, restlessness, and insomnia.
·        Physical effects include rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, shortness of breath, and a greater likelihood of colds
and flu.
·        Nicotine users have an increased risk for lung and heart disease and stroke. Smokers also have bad breath and yellowed
teeth. Chewing tobacco users may suffer from cancers of the mouth and neck.

Addictiveness: Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, which makes it extremely difficult to quit. Those who start smoking
before the age of 21 have the hardest time breaking the habit.


Rohypnol (pronounced: ro-hip-nol) is a low-cost, increasingly popular drug. Because it often comes in presealed bubble packs,
many adolescents think that the drug is safe.

Street Names: roofies, roach, forget-me pill, date rape drug

How It's Used: This drug is swallowed, sometimes with alcohol or other drugs.

Effects & Dangers:

·        It can cause the blood pressure to drop, as well as cause memory loss, drowsiness, dizziness, and an upset stomach.
·        Rohypnol has received a lot of attention because of its association with date rape. Many teen girls and women report
having been raped after having rohypnol slipped into their drinks. The drug also causes "anterograde amnesia." This means it's
hard to remember what happened while on the drug, like a blackout. Because of this it can be hard to give important details if a
young woman wants to report the rape.
·        Rohypnol is a prescription antianxiety medication that is 10 times more powerful than Valium.
·        Though it's part of the depressant family of drugs, it causes some people to be overly excited or aggressive.

Addictiveness: Users can become physically addicted to rohypnol, so it can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms when users