Young people sometimes turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with life’s frustrations, to feel more adult-like, to fit in, to rebel, or to satisfy their curiosity about drugs and drinking. Teens with depression or other mental health problems are particularly vulnerable to alcohol and drug use. 

Many adolescents fail to recognize that they are depressed and why they are depressed. But, when they drink alcohol or take drugs to alleviate their stress or emotional pain, they can develop or worsen depression.

Alcohol is a drug, with serious risks and potentially harmful consequences. Marijuana and other drugs are also dangerous and often addictive. Casual use of drugs like club drugs, inhalants and steroids can cause long-lasting brain damage and impair health.

Signs of Adolescent Alcohol and Drug Use

Consequences of Adolescent Alcohol and Drug Use

Behavioral and physical changes and life consequences associated with drug and alcohol use can include:

Help is Available

It is important to get help for alcohol and drug problems early, because the longer someone waits to get help, the harder it is to get better.

Adolescents who use alcohol or other drugs should be screened for depression, anxiety disorders and for the severity of their substance abuse problem. When appropriate, they should be referred to education or support groups, or for counseling.

Adolescents who feel that they, or one of their friends, may have alcohol or other drug problems should confide in a trusted adult such as a teacher, parent, friend’s parent or other caring individual. Also, most middle and high schools have student assistance and counseling services. School nurses, youth ministers and community youth workers are also excellent sources of information and help.