Last Updated : 12/15/2010
Dr Ira Shah
Teenagers are always trying new things. They may be involved with

alcohol and drugs

for many reasons:
- Curiosity
- Peer pressure
- To feel grown up
- For its 'kick' (because it may feel good)

Some adolescents may experiment and stop, or use occasionally while some may become dependent on them trying out more dangerous drugs, thus causing harm to themselves and even may be others. However, it is very difficult to predict which adolescent will stop and who will develop serious problems. Drug abuse may lead to serious drug use later in life, accidents and even suicide. Unfortunately, teenagers have a tendency to feel invincible and think that they shall never have a problem that others face with substance abuse.

Teenagers at risk of serious substance abuse are:


Those with an inferiority complex


Those who come from broken homes


Those with family history of alcohol or drug abuse


Those who are depressed

The various drugs abused are:
- Marijuana, cocaine, LSD, PCP, opium, heroin and other drugs like Ecstasy.
- Over the counter medications like hypnotics, barbiturates and amphetamines.
- Inhalants like glue, aerosols and solvents.

Warning signs of substance abuse:

- Personality changes - sudden mood changes, depression, general lack of interest, irresponsible behavior.
- Breaking family rules
- Falling grades. Absence from school.
- Fatigue
- Red and grazed eyes
- Chronic cough
- Disciplinary problems.

Parents may be able to recognize the warning signs. It would be useful to consult a doctor to rule out a medical problem followed by evaluation by a child psychiatrist. Treatment may be on out patient department basis whereas some may even require hospitalization. The teen may undergo various therapies like detoxification, abstinence, individual and family therapy, group therapy and even use of medications to control dependency.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Dr Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India

First Created : 2/25/2001


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