The pandemic has been hard for everyone, but especially for teens. For most students, their school year abruptly ended in the spring of 2020, and they didn’t get to close out their year as planned. They didn’t get to see their friends like usual. They didn’t get to learn like usual Seemingly overnight, their entire lives changed. Unfortunately, the following school year hasn’t been much better for them.
Most of the country began the school year with virtual learning. Some schools and students have transitioned back to in-person learning, but not all of them. In either situation, students are still expected to complete their schoolwork and be ready to move on to the next school year even though things haven’t returned to “normal.”
On top of their personal lives being upset by the pandemic, many teens have the added stress of worrying about their families. Some teens have lost family members due to the virus. Others haven’t lost anyone, but their family members were sick for a time. Others were constantly concerned that their family members could contract the virus and suffer serious side effects.
Like many adults, teens have felt the weight of ever-present worry. They’re worried that someone they love might get sick or die. They’re concerned about their family’s financial situation. They’re worried about missing out on all of the important high school experiences. They’re afraid that things will never get back to normal.
Why is teen substance abuse on the rise?
Following the pandemic, teen substance abuse is on the rise. Teens are looking for a way to cope with all of the stress they’ve been experiencing for the past year, and many of them are turning to drugs and alcohol. Some of them realize that substance abuse won’t make anything better in the long run, but it helps them feel better in the moment. For those teens, the benefit of immediate stress relief outweighs the possibility of adverse health concerns.
Some teens have also turned to substance use because it helps numb the pain of hopelessness. Everything that they’ve known about the world has drastically changed following the pandemic. Some teens have given up hope that things will get better. That hopelessness can also coincide with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Overall, the rate of teen substance use is up both when using alcohol or drugs alone or with friends. This means that some teenagers have started drinking or using marijuana even when they are by themselves. Other teens either still use substances with their friends in person, or they have found ways to use substances together virtually.
Addressing your teen’s substance abuse
If your teen has started abusing substances following the pandemic, address it immediately.
Substance abuse during the teen years can exacerbate the symptoms of depression and anxiety and can lead to addiction during adulthood. Fortunately, early intervention can reduce the likelihood of developing long-term problems from substance abuse.
Some of the warning signs of substance abuse include:
Changes in sleeping habits
Changes in eating habits
Loss of interest in things they used to like
Not wanting to spend time with people they used to like
Sudden changes in friend groups
Suddenly not caring about responsibilities
Regular headaches, stomach aches, etc.
If you are noticing the signs of substance abuse in your teen son, take action. You may be able to address it as a family, or you may need outside help. Following the pandemic, many teens benefit from therapy.
Teens who have already developed destructive habits or addictions may also benefit from attending a residential treatment center. There, they get a chance to escape from everyday stressors while they learn positive coping skills.
Contact us today to see how our program could benefit your family.