Why drug and alcohol abuse is more dangerous for the young
Alcohol addiction and especially substance abuse is really a serious issue in anyone of any age. Still, those who have had to deal with this as parents are painfully aware of the exacerbated effects it seems to have their teenage children.
This is not without foundation, as much research has clearly shown that there is far more danger for the young who go this route. The whole personality and of course the intelligence develop during one’s childhood and teenage years and only become fully developed by the age of 25.
These are your formative and growing years, the time you mould the rest of your life. When your life is compromised by alcohol and drug abuse in your early years, it can take a very different turn and change your whole future. Unfortunately for the young, the effects of alcohol and substances abuse are more profound and here are a few reasons why…
Long term health damage
The earlier you start abusing the body, the worse it can be in the long term for your overall health. Cardiovascular disease, dementia and even cancer can be the results of drug and alcohol abuse “breaking down” the body and the systems they affect.
Young bodies are simply not ready to handle the effects of substance abuse. Just one good example is that young people who drink heavily are far more likely than older people, who drink the same amount, to develop cirrhosis of the liver!
Up to the age of 25, the brain is not only still developing but is still highly susceptible to influences of all kinds. Alcohol and drug abuse effectively diminish the progress of the brain, and this has long term consequences.
According to experts “the prefrontal cortex controls complex decision-making and the activities of reasoning, planning and willpower; the limbic system controls emotion, motivation and emotional learning. Together, the impacts of retardation on the development of these systems can lead to impulsivity, sensation-seeking and slower cognitive function”…
An addictive future
….and following on from this (due to the structure and function of the adolescent brain) according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, “people who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol and substance dependence than people who start after age 21.”
Addictive behaviour in the future is very likely to be developed in teenage years when the brain is wired to look for new experiences and seek the unknown. Teenagers are impulsive and ready to try anything. Unfortunately, as an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry tells us, “teens who abuse substances can get stuck in this developmental period of impulsivity!”
Tip of the iceberg
We have really just touched the tip of the iceberg. Behavioural issues have resulted in a devastating number of deaths of teenagers while under the influence of substances and alcohol. Vehicle accidents, suicides, homicides and fatal accidents of all kinds are the constant and sad result of young people unable to control their actions while under these toxic influences.
Seek the solution
Drug and Alcohol abuse is more dangerous for the young, and as parents, we need to always be on the lookout for possible signs that this is taking place. Watch this space for our next article on recognising alcohol and substance abuse in the young. TLC (Transformation Life Centre) is a faith-based substance abuse and alcohol addiction centre in Sandton Johannesburg, passionately committed to assisting young people who have fallen into this world from which it sometimes feels like there is no return.
Fortunately, we have many who can testify that there is hope and a future for the young addict. Contact us for advice and information about our centre and take comfort in knowing that many (including some of our own counsellors) have trodden this path and today are fully recovered, happy and solid in their faith.
With TLC and Jesus Christ – there is always hope!