Adolescence is a critical period in life, as teens are developing both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, the use of drugs during this period can have serious consequences on a teen's mental health. Anxiety and depressive disorders can profoundly affect school attendance and schoolwork.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that parents reported in 2016-2019 that their child mostly or always showed signs of affection (97.0%), resilience (87.9%), positivity (98.7%) and curiosity (93.9%) among children ages 3-5 years, and curiosity (93.0%), persistence (84.2%), and self-control (73.8%) among children ages 6-11 years.
The use of drugs can have a negative impact on these indicators of positive mental health. According to UNICEF DATA, 15% of high school students reported having ever used select illicit or injection drugs (i.e. cocaine, inhalants, heroin, methamphetamines, hallucinogens, or ecstasy) and 14% of students reported misusing prescription opioids. Injection drug use places youth at direct risk for HIV, and drug use broadly places youth at risk of overdose.
Drugs can also have a direct impact on the development of the brain. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), changes in brain development and function from drug abuse can have long-term effects on a teen's mental health. Drugs can disrupt the normal development of the prefrontal cortex, which is used to make decisions, and can lead to changes in behavior and cognitive ability.
It is important to be aware of the effects of drugs on a teen's mental health, as it can have serious consequences. Parents and caregivers should be aware of the signs of drug use and seek help if they suspect their child is using drugs.