Saturday, 27 February 2016

Teenagers, Drugs and Alcohol

Teenagers, Drugs and Alcohol

My experience with drugs and alcohol


Darryl Learie
The first time I tried alcohol, and marijuana I was 24 years-old. Needless to say I never participated in the deeply concerning teenage culture of drugs and alcohol.

  At the time, I was deeply depressed, suicidal, and in a lot of pain. I had used the idea of women and their interest in me as a measure of my self worth. And their apparent lack of interest in me devastated me. I thought I was a good person with great qualities. 

  I gave up on myself, and my own morality and turned to alcohol and marijuana as a way to numb my pains. It was also the only way I could comfortably join my friends at the bar scene. Under the influence I could dance and socialize at the bar without my social anxieties and the fears associated with unpredictable drunks.

   I started to enjoy the party life that comes with beers, and pot (pot was my favorite drug of choice). I could let go of my insecurities, being self conscious, and finally pursue that part of me which just wanted to enjoy what life had to offer. Every weekend for months, I pursued every pleasure stoned on pot (everything seemed far more enjoyable stoned).

  Until one night I had an epiphany while stoned on pot. A dragon (take it for what it is) came to me and told me that all the happiness I had experienced while being on pot and alcohol was not real, and was an illusion. And that true happiness did not come from these things.

  And that profound experience brought me to realize that all the times I was happy drunk or stoned was just a string of illusions. Because the next morning I would find myself even more depressed and feeling less fulfilled in my life. It was a false happiness, a happiness fabricated by the drugs and alcohol.

  It was not the deep rooted lasting happiness that is the result of personal achievement, being true to one's self or finding ones purpose in the world.

  In fact, I remember being seen by people I respected while stoned, and feeling like an absolute loser. Being in that state I felt as if I had dismissed any integrity and self-respect I had for a good time. 

 It also brought upon many other revelations. I had realized that many of those who had partied the most usually had the least reason to celebrate. Their lives were not so much worth celebrating, in fact their lives were unmanageable and falling apart. Many of whom had highly questionable morals.

 Soon after I quit the weed, and alcohol and didn't look back. Unfortunately, marijuana was a gateway drug to smoking cigarettes of which years later I am still addicted too.

Teenagers, Drugs and Alcohol

 Many teenagers today drink, and smoke pot. Many people including adults feel that this is normal teenage behavior. But what is normal? If normal is to be defined by what many others are doing than I suppose teenagers drinking and smoking pot is normal. But is it healthy behavior? And that is the question no one seems to be asking.

  Today many teenagers pursue alcohol and pot as a life style choice, even posting their illegal activities on social media sites like Facebook. There's no shortage of teenage boys whose day to day conversations literally revolve around getting drunk and stoned. It's an epidemic.

 It's hard to write on this issue because there are so many points to be made and so many areas of concern to address.

  The first concern is when teens drink and smoke pot because their bored. It's concerning because its indicative that they are unable to cope or manage their emotional state. As a consequence they don't learn  to effectively handle the daily grind that comes with school, and work. Because of this they tend to skip school and become under achievers. They also become far less productive as individuals because they don't exercise their creative capacity to make effective use of their time. They're far less likely to learn new skills, and thus grow as a person.

  They often develop the attitude that the world ought to entertain them, and that everything and everyone is boring.

  It's also concerning when teens use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Rather than working through those dark feelings and learning how to resolve them. When drugs become the temporarily band-aid to anger, anxiety, depression, etc, the underlying issues never get resolved. And as such those issues will constantly resurface in different situations.

  Without effective skills to resolving their darker feelings, they will become less apt to appropriately  handling difficult life situations. Which will lead them to becoming more upset, anxious and stressed more often and with more people in their lives.

  It's critical that teenagers develop a certain degree of emotional management. 

  Teenagers are vulnerable in their development. They lack the wisdom that comes with life experience. They still have a lot to learn, and their brains are still in a stage of heavy development.

  Needless to say, they don't tend to have the best judgement - they tend to be impulsive without much ability to forecast the consequences of their actions. Under the influence of alcohol their judgement is impaired. And that judgement becomes far more impaired when mixed with marijuana.

  This can lead to dangerous, and risky behaviors. Like unprotected sex leading to pregnancy, or STD's. Binge drinking which can lead to alcohol poisoning and death. Driving under the influence. Experimenting with other drugs. Taking up questionable dares. Engaging in fights that they would not of otherwise engaged in. And so forth.

  Not too mention the probability of date rape increases dramatically when alcohol is involved.

  When teens adopt a lifestyle of drugs, and alcohol they learn to associate socializing, and enjoyment with drugs, and alcohol. Many times to the point where they simply don't know how to enjoy themselves (or socialize even) without drugs, and alcohol.

  Often they will redefine their personal values, and beliefs to justify and validate their drug use. Their behaviors become solely conducive to drinking, smoking up, and partying. In contrast, personal responsibility, contribution and attention to their immediate family becomes deeply neglected. This tends to severely disrupt relationships within the immediate family unit.

   What teenagers need to learn is that a person can live a happy, fulfilling, rewarding, and purposeful life without drugs, and alcohol. They need to know that it is a possibility. And that true lasting happiness can be found in meaningful relationships, achievements, contribution, purpose, and spiritual growth.

   Many teenagers need positive mentors (who don't do drugs, and alcohol) who are successful in their lives to challenge, mold, and influence their thinking. So that they learn the greater benefits of pursuing a truly meaningful life.

   Teens need to realize that their place in society is one of being a student. It is their parents whose job it is to guide, and coach them. It is their teachers who are there to teach them. And it is their role to learn how to become a functioning, and effective adult.

   Teens who get into drugs, and alcohol lose sight of what it means to become an adult. Being an adult means being independent (financially), being accountable, being responsible (to family, to others, to themselves), being beneficial to others and the world around them, and doing what what needs to be done even if you don't like it. Drinking and getting stoned hardly makes you an adult.

Effects of alcohol and marijuana on the teenage brain
  
  Because the teenage brain is undergoing what is known as neural pruning (a process where the brain shrinks and new and more efficient neural pathways are formed) it is foolish to assume that alcohol, and marijuana won't have some negative effect on their neurological development.

  The Hippocampus is responsible for memory and learning. Teens who drink heavily and/or frequently have a 10% reduction in their hippocampus. The prefrontal lobe which is critical in planning, judgement, decision making, impulse control and language is smaller in heavy drinking teens than those who do not drink. Alas, there is also evidence of impaired problem solving, and cognitive function (Source) .

  Teens who drink are also at an increased risk for social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, and violence (Source) . Not to mention the earlier teens begin drinking the greater risk they are for developing alcoholism in their adult lives. I have seen estimates where heavy drinking teens are 4 to 7 times as likely to suffer from alcoholism as an adult (Source) . And if they have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism (like alcoholism in the immediate family) they may already be 4 times as likely to develop alcoholism.

  Marijuana is bad for the teenage brain. It alters those brain regions involved in emotion and reward processing. And teens who regularly smoke pot can lose an average of 6 points in their overall IQ. If the average IQ is 100, that can put them at an IQ of 94 or lower. Another risk, is the risk of psychosis (a serious break from reality) for those who are genetically vulnerable to schizophrenia. Alas, Those who are genetically vulnerable to schizophrenia and smoke up are 6 times more likely to develop schizophrenia as an adult.

  Not to mention, those who smoke weed daily before age 17 are 18 times more likely to become dependent on marijuana as adults (Source) .

  It seems clear that teens who regularly smoke marijuana also seem to lack motivation and ambition. This is believed to be the result of lower dopamine levels. Lower dopamine in a part of the brain called the striatum is linked to less ambition and motivation at a neuronal level (Source) .

  There are numerous research studies on the effects of alcohol and marijuana on the adolescent brain. All of which can be found on the internet. I have only argued for and listed a few of those studies because I have already put hours, and hours into this blog post. It is my belief that marijuana is bad for the developing adolescent brain.

Conclusion

  Teenage drinking and pot use is a serious and complex problem - I know the very issue has personally affected and impacted my life. It needs to be further explored in greater detail. I have not yet even touched on how this epidemic results in crime, how it personally effects immediate family, the link between alcohol and domestic abuse and relationship abuse, and the dangerous doors that are opened in the drug world, etc. There is so much to go through, and explain.

  Thank-you for taking the time to read my blog post.

Link to another article on teenage drinking.

When “Just a Sip” Is Something More: Can Teen Alcoholism Start At Home?

  

 
 

1 comment:

  1. I admit, I have not been on this web page in a long time... however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues. bubblers

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