In-Depth Information on Substance-Related Disorders
For more detailed information on Substance-Related Disorders, including symptoms, treatment, real-life stories, and questions and answers, see About Substance-Related Disorders.
Overview of the Disorders
Although any teenagers try alcohol or drugs at least once, most stop using them. Some teenagers however, go from experiment to abuse and when they reach the point where using the drug is a need and getting it a priority they have developed a substance-related disorder. Following are three basic types of substance-related disorders:
- Substance dependence - A pattern of repeated substance use that results in tolerance (need for increasingly larger quantity of the substance), withdrawal (unpleasant physical reactions) and compulsive drug-taking behavior.
- Substance abuse - A maladaptive pattern of substance abuse that results in recurrent and significant adverse consequences, such as failure to fulfill obligations at work, home or school, use in situations in which it is physically hazardous, legal problems, and social and interpersonal problems.
- Substance-induced disorder - A mental or physical problems that result solely from the drug's chemical effects on the body. They should disappear within a month or so after substance use has stopped.
Cause: Any child or adolescent with access to alcohol or drugs can potentially develop a substance-related disorder, but some are at greater risk. Genetic vulnerability plays a strong role, and substance disorders run in families. Studies show that teenagers are more likely to develop substance disorders if they have depression, low self-esteem, or the feeling that they don't "fit in" socially.
Treatment: The type of treatment depends upon the severity of the problem. For example, a hospital setting may be necessary to monitor detoxification. Other interventions include a 12-Step Alcoholics Anonymous teen program, residential group home settings, partial hospitalization or day treatment, and special recreational opportunities, such as wilderness experiences, with supervised activities in a drug-free environment.
Reprinted with the permission of the NYU Child Study Center. © NYU Child Study Center.
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