Substance Abuse: Awareness and Prevention

Co-Authors: Rithika Pagala and Prachi Kotte

Did you know?

Almost 2 million teens, aged 12-17, abuse drugs. Out of this, many students begin to use marijuana at the age of 14, while alcohol consumption is most common at the age of 12.  Abusing drugs at an early age causes and leads to detrimental developmental issues in one’s physical and mental health!


The type of music we listen to also has an effect on our body. For example, more upbeat tunes will give off a positive and enthusiastic mood while slower songs can help in calming you down. However, the power of music doesn’t stop there. It can also help lower your cortisol levels and heart rate, and it reduces anxiety! A study published in 2019 in PLoS One Journal found that 89% out of a sample population agreed that music helped them in reducing their stress levels. So whenever you feel tense, pop in some earbuds and listen to your favorite tunes.

Hit The Gym:

Exercise can improve our physical and mental well-being. It is scientifically proven that after a good workout, your body releases chemicals called endorphins which play a huge role in making you feel good about yourself. Something as simple as taking a walk or playing your favorite sport is enough to shake off all of that stress. If you are limited on space and time, doing a quick 10-minute workout in your home or just dancing to your favorite songs is a simple option that gets you closer to a happier mindset. 

Meditation and Proper Sleep Schedules:

Meditation is a freeing, easy way to cool down your body and maintain peace with yourself. According to the Sleep Foundation, meditation can have many positive health benefits, including “lower heart rate and blood pressure. Some data suggests that meditation reduces activation of stress pathways in the brain, as well as levels of stress hormones.” Additionally, meditation can reduce anxiety.

Don’t avoid just confront:

Telling someone about what is stressing you out will not only feel good, but will also help you come up with a solution. Being able to freely express your feelings with someone you trust such as an older sibling, parent, or teacher may benefit you by allowing you to understand the situation better and with a better perspective than before. A study done by REACH OUT asked young adults to explain why it helps to talk about their stresses instead of avoiding them. They claimed that talking about what is worrying them makes them feel less alone. It’s important to have a trusted adult in your life that you can talk to about. Prevention of abusing substances as a teen is highly important. It’s important to spread the message between friends too!

Stay away from people involved in drug use:

Your friends are what shape your mindset, personality, traits, and more. If you have friends who are constantly abusing drugs, it may be a good time to change your friend group. So if you are friends with or know of someone who is fighting their addiction, it is key that you talk to them and then refer them to a trusted adult for further help. If your friends ever ask you to do something you are not okay with doing, which is otherwise known as peer pressure, it should not be taken lightly- especially when it concerns your mental or physical health. As hard as it sounds, making the right decisions for your safety is a huge priority.

Learn to use healthy alternatives:

Using healthy alternatives to cope with stress can aid in avoiding abusing substances. Negative emotions are normal to have and almost every teen goes through them every day. However, It’s better to set boundaries now and explore healthier options. It’s important to remind yourself that you are not alone and if you are currently fighting addiction, you should talk to a medical professional and seek medical help!

Why parents need to talk to their teens:

Parents are not only role models for their children but also a trustworthy source to talk to. Parents can set healthy boundaries when their teen is curious and make it a comfortable environment where they can easily ask any questions they may have regarding drug use. One key thing to remember is to be honest and open with your child and explain the side effects of substance abuse. Having the ability to help them understand and the ability to create a meaningful conversation with your teen is better than giving them commands on what not to do. SAMHSA states that these types of conversations are important and that “they can protect their children from many of the high-risk behaviors associated with drug use”. You can save your child’s life with just one conversation. 

Why is drug use at an earlier age an issue that requires immediate attention?

Many disorders are linked with drug use at early ages, and an abnormal physical or mental development can cause several issues later in life. Substance abuse can lead to development problems in the brain making it easier to develop mental illnesses, such as depression.

Teens are more likely to develop a serious disorder from substance abuse quicker than adults. If they have a preexisting mental health issue, substance abuse can increase their risk for more disorders as well. This can largely impact their social, academic, and personal well-being.

How can YOU help?

  • If you know anyone who is struggling to fight their addiction, please take immediate action and seek medical help.
  • Be part of the prevention.
  • Use healthy alternatives and encourage others around you to do the same; if you’re a parent, try talking to your teen about substance abuse.


SAMHSA   Childmind   NCDAS    LandmarkRecovery  SleepFoundation

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