teen drug treatment
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Did you know that by the time teens reach the 12th grade, nearly half have tried illicit drugs?1 Studies also show that 8% of children ages 12-17 have used drugs in the last month. If these statistics weren’t staggering enough, the impact drug use could have on a teen’s development is highly concerning. Drugs can lead to serious health problems, from illnesses to memory problems. These effects highlight the need to be aware of the signs of drug use and the importance of teen drug treatment.

As we examine the effects of teen drug use, we’ll also tell you about some red flags and how Ember Recovery can help if your teen has a drug abuse problem.

How Teen Drug Use Impacts Functioning & Development

While drug use at any age is damaging and has harmful effects, the impact it can have on teens is hazardous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens who use drugs or alcohol may face: 2

  • Impacted brain development
  • Increase in long-term health problems like heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Increase the likelihood of engaging in risky behavior
  • Increased risk of developing a substance use disorder as an adult

The impact teen drug or alcohol use can have on the brain is profound. Drug and alcohol abuse can impact the brain’s short-term function and future development. When teens abuse drugs and alcohol, they can interfere with neurotransmitters and damage connections to the brain. They can also create memory problems and impact the brain’s ability to experience pleasure. Any cognitive and behavioral problems drug and alcohol abuse causes can also interfere with a teen’s academic performance and can present roadblocks to learning. Teens who use drugs or alcohol tend to have higher school delinquency rates, impacting school performance.

Effects Different Drugs Have on Teens

Marijuana use, which shows to be prevalent among teens, has been shown to impact learning, psychomotor skills, and short-term memory. 3 Other drugs can risk a teen’s health differently, leading to severe impairment, illness, and even death. 4

Here are some key findings:

  • Cocaine can lead to a risk of heart attack, stroke, and seizures.
  • Inhalants have a chance of heart, lung, liver, and kidney damage after long-term use.
  • Ecstasy has a chance of liver and heart failure.
  • Methamphetamine use can lead to a risk of having psychotic behaviors from long-term use or high doses.
  • Opioid use has a risk of respiratory distress or death resulting from an overdose.

Other Effects Drugs Can Have on Teens

Besides physical effects, drugs can also impact teens in other damaging ways. Teens who use drugs or alcohol are also at a higher risk for mental health issues such as:

  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Suicide

In addition to mental health impacts, teen drug and alcohol use can lead to accidents, and physical disabilities, further highlighting the need for teen drug treatment.

Besides the physical and mental consequences of substance use, teens may also experience clouded judgment, which can have dangerous effects such as:

  • Criminal activity
  • Assaults
  • Unplanned pregnancies
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

Studies have shown a high rate of drug use among teens who commit property, violence, and other types of crimes. 3 Drugs’ impact on relationships with family and friends can also be detrimental. Teens may become less interested in their activities and friends and pull away from their families. This can lead to isolation and more of a focus on their drugs of choice.

Signs of Teen Drug Use

Awareness of the signs of drug use can help get the teen drug treatment your child needs before it’s too late. Some common symptoms of teen drug use include: 4

  • Irresponsible behavior
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Sudden or extreme changes in friends, eating habits, sleeping patterns
  • Poor academic performance
  • Withdrawal from the family
  • Poor hygiene
  • Frequently ill
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Seizures and vomiting

You may also notice that your teen is secretive with their phone use or tends to lock their doors frequently. If they manage to disappear for a long time or go out often and break curfew, your teen may be trying to hide a drug or alcohol abuse problem.

Teen Drug Treatment at Ember Recovery

If your teen is abusing drugs, Ember Recovery can help. We offer teen drug treatment in Iowa to help young people battling a substance abuse disorder.

At Ember Recovery, you’ll find a variety of programs to help your teen get the help they need to get on the path to sobriety. Our programs include individualized treatment programs for teens because not all teens with a drug problem will benefit from the same type of treatment. Each plan will focus on the need of the individual so that they get the help they need. We also offer dual diagnosis treatment for teens who may also be dealing with mental health issues besides their drug use. You’ll also find detox referrals and aftercare recovery planning among our other services.

If your teen is battling drug or alcohol abuse, let Ember Recovery help. Our team has the training and experience to get your child on the right track. Call us today or contact us online for more information.



[1] https://drugabusestatistics.org/teen-drug-use/

[2] https://www.verywellmind.com/even-occasional-drug-use-can-be-dangerous-69459#citation-2

[3] https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh176/files/pubs/drugid/ration-03.html

[4] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-drug-abuse/art-20045921