2020, unlike past years, has proven to be a difficult year for all ages. Similar to the pandemic the world is facing, the epidemic of substance abuse among teens is not slowing down. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains prescription medications, along with other drugs, are one of the fastest-growing substance abuse problems within the United States specifically affecting the lives of teenagers. Moreover, countries around the world have seen a similar trend – 35 million people globally suffered from drug misuse in 2019. The more adults and adolescents understand the signs and dangers of using, the bigger the chance of reducing the problem within communities.
Startling Substance Abuse Statistics
In 2019, an estimated 1.3 million youth in the United States struggled with a drug or alcohol problem. Common risk factors that play a role in that startling number include but are not limited to, a mental health issue, family history, peer association, childhood trauma, and other risky behaviors.
The earlier youth partake in using substances, the greater the likelihood they develop unhealthy habits in the future. However, early detection of misuse can help adults take preventative measures in the adolescent's life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an informative resource that explains the risks of substance abuse and gives a guide for pediatricians and parents on how to help.
The CDC highlights the most used substances among teens:
- Two-thirds of students have tried alcohol by 12th grade
- About half of high school students reported they have used marijuana
- Around 4 in 10 high school students reported having tried cigarettes
- Close to 2 in 10 12th graders reported using prescription medicine without a prescription
Caregivers play a vital role in guiding young people’s attitude towards drugs and alcohol. Getting youth and their caregivers involved with one another will allow for a better understanding of the impact substance use is having on the youth’s life. Overall, this involvement can help teens feel more inclined to open up about the habits they take part in.
COVID-19 Isn’t Helping
Substance abuse is reported to be worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since social distancing began in early spring of 2020, there have been fears of increased drug usage among teenagers. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) acknowledges the frequency of adolescent alcohol and cannabis use has increased, and predictors include greater peer reputation concerns, self-reported popularity, and depressive symptoms. Isolation and other factors from the pandemic have left some youth struggling. Now more than ever, it is important to know the signs of drug dependence and ways to prevent it.
Teens and families who are struggling with substance abuse are not alone. Multisystemic Therapy (MST) provides customized interventions within the home, school, and the community of at-risk youth and their families in order to solve drug or alcohol misuse. With this approach, teams of MST therapists are on-call 24/7 to provide families with the support and tools they need. Most importantly, therapists carefully monitor the effects of their interventions and constantly tailor treatments to meet the family’s needs. Near the end of the program, therapists help caregivers take the lead role in monitoring and disciplining the youth. When caregivers are in control, they can continue the strategies taught after therapy is completed.
An evidence-based prevention program like MST will work to reduce risk factors for drug and alcohol use and build healthy relationships between the youth, their parent or guardian, and their peers. MST implements intervention strategies that focus on reaching goals and achieving outcomes.
Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is an evidence-based substance abuse treatment. MST effectively treats troubled youth and their families by utilizing a built-in suite of services within the home, school, and community settings. For more information about Multisystemic Therapy, click here.