By Barbara Thompson, Executive Director NCADD-Sacramento
We all know that teens are resistant to parental and adult influences at the time when direction is what they need most. Teenagers are highly impressionable and vulnerable to the allure of harmful habits. Since the developing teenage brain makes them more prone to impulsive decisions, risky behaviors and succumbing to peer pressure, the risk is high for experimenting with and abusing alcohol and other drugs.
Young people who start drinking alcohol before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence than people who first used alcohol at age 21 or older. Research for drug use and drug addiction has found similar sobering results.
At the same time, the effects of drugs and alcohol impact young people more than any other age group. More than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs – impacting parents, family members, friends and educators who care about them.
These statistics cannot be ignored. The situation is now compounded by the accessibility of powerful and addictive prescription drugs being easily procured through well-stocked medicine cabinets and the internet.
Even though it may feel like a daunting task, it’s essential to talk about the realities and dangers of addiction, and doing this before they hit the teen years is crucial.
If you want to learn even more, please join me at the TEEN PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE SUMMIT hosted by the United States District Attorney’s Office on September 20. Call Sean Vassar at 916.554.2907 for more information. I’ll be presenting information on the disease of addiction and many other professionals will be providing the exact information that parents, educators and community leaders need in these challenging times.