With the recent heroin epidemic creeping its way into the teenagers of America, there have been studies on the effects of opioid usage in developing brains. It might be obvious that heroin will in no way help those on their way to becoming adults. However, it’s important we educate ourselves on how a teenager’s brain isn’t developing properly while under the influence.
Within a study published in Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, a team of researchers has discovered the mental health damages found in heroin addicted adolescents and compared it to adolescents addicted to other substances that aren’t classified under opioids.
It’s notable that heroin addicted teens are more likely to suffer from symptoms of depression, anxiety, and an overall poor concept of their self-image. This fact alone shows that heroin use is very dangerous even outside its potentially fatal consequences. With the developing brain on such an intense substance, an addicted adolescent is preventing themselves from growing many of their psychology’s capabilities.
Teen Usage Statistics
The National Institute of Drug Abuse holds an annual survey tracking the statistics of heroin usage in teenagers between the grades of eighth and twelfth. For those interested in doing research on their own, the survey’s proper title is Monitoring the Future.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse has been running this survey since 1975 and notes that heroin use has gone up within the last decade. One of the biggest reasons for this is because purer heroin became available sometime in the 1990’s. Through that, people began smoking and snorting it rather than just injecting.
The survey will tell you that about 0.6% of twelfth and tenth graders consume heroin at least once over the course of a year. While 0.5% of eighth graders intake the substance. If we can compare these numbers to that of the 1970’s, there remains an increase. However, the Institute notes that they were only surveying needle injections up until 1995. Therefore, the team wasn’t accounting for the use of heroin with these other methods before they became popular.
One notable fact is even though heroin isn’t quite as favored amongst high school teens as it is in young adults, other opioid substances (mostly prescription medication) have seen an increase in popularity. In a previous blog, we mentioned how one of the most sufficient causes for heroin use is an opium addiction starting with other substances. We can link the increase of heroin use in young adults with the increase in opioid prescriptions amongst teenagers.
Effects on a Teen’s Mental Health
As mentioned earlier, the Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse conducted a survey in which they took heroin-addicted teenagers and compared them to teenagers addicted to other substances. Fifty-two of the teens were experiencing heroin addiction while sixty-eight were noted as having a non-opioid addiction.
The researchers found that those addicted to heroin were more likely to hold the traits of the following mental behaviors:
- Disruptive conduct
- Poor concept of oneself
Though these traits can be common even in non-drug users, the study concluded that there was a significant difference in attitude between heroin addicted teens and those addicted to other substances.
We can conclude that heroin has some major effects on the developing brain that teenagers should want to avoid. And though other addictions don’t seem to hold such a major threat, they still threaten heroin usage in later years. Most notably, if they are addictions of prescribed opioid substances.
If you have any questions in concern to teen heroin usage or you are looking for a treatment plan to help an addicted teenager, please give Stonewall Institute Treatment Center a call at 602-535-6468 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.