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Adolescent Substance Use: A Call for Mental Health and Stress Management Support

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Zara Nwosu
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Adolescent Substance Use: A Call for Mental Health and Stress Management Support

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Unveiling the Motivations for Adolescent Substance Use

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A recent study conducted from 2014 to 2022, and published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, has shed new light on the motivations behind substance use among adolescents. The study, based on data from nearly 16,000 teenagers, found that the primary reason for substance use was to alleviate stress and promote a sense of calmness and relaxation. An alarming 73% of participants reported using substances 'to feel mellow, calm, or relaxed.'

Stress Relief, Experimentation, and Loneliness

Besides the quest for relaxation, other stress-related motivations also featured prominently among the reasons for substance use. Half of the participants reported using substances as a means 'to have fun or experiment.' Furthermore, the majority of adolescents reported using substances either with friends or alone, accounting for 81% and 50% respectively. This highlights a concerning trend of solitary substance use among adolescents, which can carry additional risks compared to social use.

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Substance of Choice: Marijuana

The report disclosed that the most commonly used substance among teens was marijuana, with an alarming 84% of participants reporting its use. Other substances were also used as coping mechanisms for dealing with depression or anxiety, with 44% using substances as sleep aids, and 40% using substances to manage symptoms of depression or anxiety.

The Consequences and Risks of Substance Use

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While these substances may provide temporary relief from stress and other mental health issues, their use can lead to a host of health problems, including addiction, physical harm, and even fatal overdoses. The study emphasized the importance of ensuring access to naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses, as a critical step in mitigating the risks associated with drug use.

Calling for Prevention and Intervention Strategies

The study's findings underscore the urgent need for effective prevention and intervention strategies aimed at adolescents. Peer pressure, mental health issues, and stress were identified as major contributing factors to substance use. By addressing these issues, we can potentially reduce the motivations for substance use among teenagers.

Mental Health Services: A Potential Solution

The authors of the report suggest that public health action ensuring that youths have access to treatment and support for mental health concerns and stress could reduce some of the reported motivations for substance use. This calls for a multi-pronged approach that includes increasing access to mental health services, providing education about the dangers of drug use, and implementing early prevention interventions. By doing so, we could pave the way towards a healthier future for our adolescents.

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