Drug Addiction among Teenagers
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In today’s society, the common problem among teenagers is the use of drugs. Teen age years are probably one of the most challenging periods of life. It’s a stage of puberty and identity versus confusion – knowing oneself compared to losing oneself. Teenagers usually experiment in order to become friends with the ‘popular’ kids in school. However, sometimes these experiments go brutally wrong and they end up with an addiction. The question is, how do they overcome this addiction? If we as human beings never make mistakes, we will never learn. Teenagers are so full of life and so eager to learn about everything that sometimes they do make mistakes. One common mistake that many teenagers make is the use of drugs and alcohol. Peer pressure is a problem at this age. If they see someone popular doing it, they’ll do the same in order to become popular too. If they see their idol doing it, they will follow in their footsteps. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), American teenagers abuse drugs more than teens in any other country in the world. Also, recently, the number of teenage drug users soared and the availability of drugs on the street hit an all-time high (SAMHSA 1999). Being able to get drugs like you’re going out for take-out is a huge issue.
There are four major stages of drug addiction: Experimentation, Regular Use, Risky Use/ Abuse and Drug Addiction and Dependency (Buddy T 2009). Experimentation is defined as the voluntary use of drugs without experiencing any negative social or legal consequences. For many, experimenting may occur once or several times as a way to “have fun” or even help the individual cope with a problem. For others, experimenting may occur without any desire to continue using the drugs. And for the rest, it can start to become a problem when it moves into the next stage of addiction: regular use. In the second stage, some people will enter this stage of regular use without developing a dependence or addiction. These people will be able to stop the drug use on their own. The problem with regular use is that the risk for substance abuse greatly increases during this stage.
It also increases risky behaviors such as driving under the influence, unexplained violence, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. There’s a thin line between regular use and risky use/abuse. However, it is usually defined as continued use of drugs in spite of severe social and legal consequences. What might have begun as a temporary form of escape can quickly lead to more serious problems. This is a stage where the warning signs of addiction will begin to appear: craving, preoccupation with the drug, and symptoms of depression, irritability and fatigue if the drug is not used. The final stage is physical dependence on a drug. Characteristics of dependence and drug addiction include withdrawal symptoms and compulsive use of the drug despite severe negative consequences to his or her relationships, physical and mental health, personal finances, job security and criminal records.
One of the hardest parts of addiction is admitting to yourself and those around you that you’re an addict. When an addict finally comes to realization that they have a problem, the first thing they want to do is to get help. There are twelve steps to recovery. Step one is honesty – admitting to yourself, to friends and to family that you have a problem. Faith is step two, “It seems to be a spiritual truth that before a higher power can begin to operate, you must first believe that it can” (Buddy T 2009). Step three is surrender; making a simple decision to free yourself. Step four is soul searching; figuring out the person you are without the use of drugs. Integrity is step five which is one of the most difficult of all steps. Step six is acceptance, accepting that you have a problem and learning how to deal with it. Humility is the next step, asking a higher power to do something that cannot be done by ones-self or mere determination. Step eight is willingness, making a list of those you harmed before coming into recovery. Forgiveness is the ninth step, making amends for those hurt during your dark days. Step ten is maintenance, admitting you were wrong. Making contact is step eleven; discovering the plan God has for your life. Finally, step twelve is service, simply how life works after addiction.
Back home, I have a friend who was hands-down a junkie. It all started one horrible day when she wanted to try cocaine just for “the heck of it”. That one time got her hooked and she wouldn’t go a day without snorting. One night, at around 3:00am, I heard knocking on my apartment door. I open it to see the security guard holding her. Her eyes were blood-red, her hair was a mess and she looked like she had just been raped. We carried her into my apartment and tried waking her up, but no luck. I began to freak out and I was just about to call the ambulance when I saw something sticking out of her bra. I picked it up and saw it was a small bag with pearly-white power in it. I had never seen cocaine before in my life so I didn’t know whether to think it was actually cocaine or just creamer. Nevertheless I decided not to call the ambulance just in case it was cocaine; I didn’t want her to get arrested. Next, I called a friend of mine who had been in his share of trouble during his life. I was scared for Jane and didn’t know what to do. When he finally arrived, he told me to just let her sleep it off and she’ll be fine. I remember shouting, “fine?! You call this fine?!” Exactly after those words escaped my mouth, she woke up.
Jane’s recovery wasn’t easy, but she had me there beside her all the way. At first, it was absolutely insane. She wanted it and would do anything to get it. Before drugs, she was a straight A student with so much going for her in her life. During and after drugs, she was a high school dropout living in her car; that is until I decided to help her out. I took her to meetings and was there when she needed a shoulder to cry on. Her parents weren’t in the picture during this time. A few months passed and she got healthier, so one day I took to go see her parents. It was the most emotional thing I have ever seen. Her parents saw how much she had change and she realized how much she had missed them. I guess in that moment she saw how much good she had in her life and wanted all that back. So instead of moving back home, she stayed with me until she knew she was 100% better. And now she is. Jane is studying in Oregon State University and she hasn’t been happier or healthier.
That story is an example on how everyone, no matter what stage they’re in, can recover from addiction. Whether its alcohol, drugs, shopping or whatever it may be, addiction is addiction and you need help in order to overcome it. “The Five Levels of Truth-Telling: First, you tell the truth to yourself about yourself. Then you tell the truth to yourself about another. At the third level, you tell the truth about yourself to another. Then you tell your truth about another to that other. And finally, you tell the truth to everyone about everything.” – Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God (Book 2)
The Twelve Steps of Recovery. In About Addiction from www.alcoholism.about.com/cs/info/a/aa981021.htm National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In National Survey on Drug Use and Health from https://nsduhweb.rti.org/ National Drug Statistics Summary. In Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base fromhttp://www.adolescent-substance-abuse.com/national-drug-statistics.html Recovery Support. In Addiction Alchemy Beyond Sobriety from http://www.addictionalchemy.com/addiction_recovery_quotes.html Stories. In Check Yourself from