Peer pressure is a compelling force and can contribute to people participating in activities they might not otherwise engage in, like trying drugs and alcohol.
Drug and alcohol experimentation can often take many people down a path of self-destruction, regardless of age.
Experimenting with drugs or alcohol typically means trying them out for the first time. You might be curious about how drugs or alcohol will make you feel or try the substance because you don’t want to be a buzzkill for your friends. Even though drug and alcohol use tends to be limited in the experimentation stage, if you don’t give up right after your first try, it might soon evolve into a substance use disorder.
Acquiring information and asking the right questions can help you nip the problem in the bud before it gets out of control. Keep reading to learn more about drug experimentation, all the risk factors associated with it; how to determine if it is getting out of control; and how to find the right help to get through it.
Why Is It Dangerous for Teens to Experiment with Drugs and Alcohol?
Despite its popularity throughout adolescence, there are still significant risks and negative consequences associated with drug and alcohol use. According to scientific studies, the earlier you start experimenting with substances, the greater the likelihood you will develop a substance use disorder later in your adult years. This is because of how the juvenile brain is structured.
The brain still develops during adolescence and the first few years of young adulthood. The dynamic changes in your brain—learning from new experiences and culling out the old, less significant ones—will eventually determine your cognitive abilities as you age.
Before the age of 25, drugs and alcohol have the potential to disrupt your brain development, alter its chemical composition, and have long-term effects such as memory deficits. Substance use disorder is more common during this period because the brain is more prone to “absorb” and “depend” on the pleasant benefits of drugs.
Research shows over 70% of youngsters who abuse drugs before turning 13 will experience an addiction within seven years. Also, one in four teenagers who start using illicit substances before they are 18 will go on to become addicted.
Why is Drug Experimentation Dangerous for Adults (and Teens)?
Experimenting with drugs and alcohol can lead to many risky behaviors. Here are some of the most dangerous ones:
Risky Sexual Behavior
Experimenting with drugs and alcohol can lower inhibitions, increasing your likelihood of engaging in sexual activity or with partners that may not be safe. There is also a direct link between substance misuse and HIV/AIDS. Whether the risk is due to engaging in sexual activity while under the influence of illicit substances or from sharing needles, the link between drug and alcohol use and HIV/AIDS is well-established.
Destructive Violent Behavior
Substance addiction and aggression are well linked. Studies show that more than 26% of individuals who used alcohol, marijuana, or heroin in the previous 12 months committed a violent crime. Some use violence to steal money and valuables to fuel their drug or alcohol habits.
Others grow aggressive over time. Narcotic use can lead to aggressive, unpredictable, or paranoid behavior in the consumer. In the same way, psychoactive substances can provoke erratic, bold, and perhaps fatal behavior.
Suicide and Substance Abuse
Various circumstances can influence suicidal behavior, but alcohol and drug use, in particular, have been connected to an alarmingly high suicide rate and suicide attempts.
As many as 30 to 40 percent of suicide attempts are fueled by alcoholism. A study found that intoxication increased the risk of suicide ten times while injecting illicit drugs raises it 14 times.
How to Conduct a Self-Assessment to Determine If You Have a Substance Use Disorder?
When it comes to pursuing pleasure, those dependent on alcohol or other drugs find it difficult to break their habits. Because of this, it can be challenging for people to determine whether alcoholism has progressed to a problematic level.
The following quiz might help you identify if you or a loved one have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
Do I Often Consume More Substances than I Intend to?
Many guests at a get-together can easily have one or two drinks over a few hours and then refrain from further consumption. But, if you’re suffering from a substance use disorder, you may lose count of how many drinks you’ve had. In other cases, you may not even realize that you’ve been drinking for a lengthy period.
Is My Use of Substances Negatively Affecting My Relationships?
Relationships are affected by substance use disorders if a person’s social circle changes as a result of alcohol usage. Consider whether you’ve started to gravitate toward people who promote or engage in substance use and away from those who disapprove of their conduct. This can reduce your desire to stop using substances.
Do My Use of Substances Keep Me From My Responsibilities?
Many people battling substance use disorders are unable to complete their daily obligations because they spend so much time intoxicated and dealing with hangovers. Consider if you’ve missed school or work assignments lately, if you find it difficult to do house chores, or if you haven’t paid any bills. If your answer is yes, then it is best to seek help as soon as possible.
Do I Continue to Use Substances Even When They’re Making Me Sick?
In addition to the addiction itself, the long-term repercussions of substance misuse can lead to physical and mental health problems. Even though you may be experiencing health concerns, you may make reasons or simply dismiss the link between your excessive use of substances and the health issues you are experiencing.
Is More Quantity of a Substance Required to Have the Same Effect as Before?
Tolerance can develop as a result of long-term, excessive drug usage. It is a symptom that the brain’s chemical pathways have been disrupted by alcohol consumption, indicating that the brain is becoming dependent on the presence of substances to operate. It’s a prelude to substance misuse and can persist even after the disorder has taken hold.
Do I Have Cravings or Urges to Use Substances?
If your impulses to consume substances have become overwhelming, that’s a sign you need to reach out for help.
You Are Not Alone
Experimenting with alcohol or drugs does not make you a bad person. Early intervention can stop a risky path to drug addiction and other grave consequences. If you acknowledge drug use is an issue for you or a loved one, you shouldn’t feel defeated or worried about what anyone might say. Asking for assistance will put you back on the right track.
Mayflower Recovery’s state-of-the-art programs and services are precisely what you need to get your life back on track. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, Mayflower Recovery in Wilmington, MA has the perfect solution. They have created a top-of-the-line detox and residential facility that is sure to help. With their outstanding programs and services, you will be able to get your life back on track. View their programs or chat live with a friendly professional on their website today.