Alcohol and drug use in a teenager’s life can impact both social and personal aspects in their lives. In today’s day and age, the average child will try alcohol by the age of 11 and marijuana by the age of 12 (Children Now, 2015). Those whose bodies are still growing, their minds are still growing, and their motivation, their cognitive, and their mood may be affected by the alcohol and drugs. Deficits in the development of the brain due to the alcohol may also cause trouble with school, their job, and friends and family (Squeglia, Jacobus, & Tapert, 2009). The use of drugs and alcohol can also be linked to up to half of lung cancer and coronary heart disease cases (Hawkins, Catalano, Miller, pg. 64). In a research study done to test the effects of alcohol in teenagers, it was found that those who consistently depend on alcohol recalled ten percent less information than those who were not dependent. Even after the dependent group stopped drinking alcohol for three weeks, and was tested once more, they still recalled 10 percent less information than the other group. In a research study done with marijuana, the results showed rather similar. Previously, scientists had believed that marijuana had no long term effects, but research is now showing decreased performances when it comes to memory and tests. When those being tested stopped using the drug for four weeks, the results remained consistent, similar to the results of the alcohol study(Squeglia, Jacobus, & Tapert, 2009). Teenagers have been found to be more affected than adults due to their still growing and very vulnerable hippocampus (McNeely & Blanchard).When it comes to the “harder” drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine, they have been found to target dopamine receptors in the brain and cause damage to these receptors. The damage to these receptors can affect the ability to experience gratification and reward and can tweak with a person impulse control (McNeely & Blanchard).
In regards to relationships and intercourse among teenagers, this as a topic over the last decade has gotten more and more attention in national news. From the continual rise of sexual activity at earlier ages, to news about the rise in rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections (what used to be known as STD, diseases) in teens, or even the information of sending sexual text or picture messages (“sexting”). Partaking in sexual behavior in teenage years can be consequential to both mental and physical health. It can cause psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, and anger, and can put strains onto the body such unplanned pregnancies (Liace, Nunez, & Luckner, 2011).
The consequences that can happen due to teenage relationships, sexual or not, and alcohol and drug use can be quite severe. Childrennow.org has some tips that can make it easier to talking with adolescents and teens about some of these issues.The topics can be rather hit or miss, but it all depends on the parenting style that works best for the parent. Some of the tips promote things such as “set a good example” and “establishing a clear position on drugs” role play “role play”. With my personal experience, I don’t really believe that these methods with work, and when it comes to teenagers, it might not be enough. Considering a teenager’s rebellious tendencies and the peer pressure that they have to deal with, they may not be the most willing to accept advice from their parents (Feldman, pg. 364). Coincidently, the teen may be thinking that “it can’t happen to them”, that they’re immune to the statistics and studies, and take the stance ‘it happens to other people, but not to them.’ or the ‘you only live once’ mentality. When looking back to when I was a teenager, the tips that I agree with and think would help the most are “listen carefully,” “encourage choice,” “anticipate the next stage,” and “explore your own attitudes.” All these tips have the common theme of communication. By having that open communication, by being a parent that not only talks with their teenager, but listens, the teenager can feel more comfortable going to their parent for help, advice, to talk, or to voice their concerns. ChildrenNow.org state that teenagers that are able to feel that they can talk with their parents are far less likely to engage in high risk behavior such as engaging in drug or alcohol use (ChildrenNow, 2015). This open communication can help encourage choice, and by inspiring choice, this allows the teen a sense of independence. During these years of growth, that sense of independence can be pertantant for psychological and psychosocial development. (Feldman, pg. 385).” ChildrenNow.org states that parents should “Anticipate the next stage” a tool that can be extremely helpful for their children, no matter the age.With how important psychosocial and psychological development is during childhood and adolescent years, more parent should be educating themselves, and childnow.org is a good resource.