There are several causes for the adolescent substance abuse. One of those subtle causes that you can act is by leading in understanding cause and treatment of anxiety and depression.
Sleep deprivation is probably the most hidden cause of depression and anxiety among the youth.
This is one of the areas that you can identify and help your teen with as they navigate high school.
Studies on depression, anxiety and adolescent substance abuse
Studies on adolescents have shown that treating depression in adolescents can cut the risk of the teen’s substance abuse.
According to a 5 year study, the youth that received effective short-term treatment for depression were considerably less likely to start using or abuse substances.
The study also found that the adolescents who had alcohol and substance use disorders before the treatment for depression, did not show any reduction in use.
On a larger study with nearly 60,000 youth aged 13 to 24 over seven and a half years, found that the youth that had mental health disorders and were receiving treatment for pain had more than double likelihood of receiving long term opioid treatment.
The opioids were prescribed for headaches, back or neck pain or other common chronic pain complaints.
Anxiety and depression have been associated with increased symptoms of pain.
Causes for depression and anxiety for youth:
Most high school age school students are getting very little sleep. This is partly due to staying up, texting or talking on phone, updating pictures and watching videos. Most of the parents are unaware as this happens long after they wished them a good night.
According to previous studies, teenagers require 8 to 9 hours of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation only 15% of teen’s gets 8.5 hours of sleep on school nights.
In another study of more than 1600 teen’s in 2006, the Foundation found that many of the youth showed signs of depression. Over half of the participants reported that they were stressed and had anxiety.
Help with the lack of sleep:healing anxiety and depression
Too many of the youth sit all day, in class on phone and on video games and electronics.
Enroll and encourage the youth to be part of a team or join fun and creative regular habit of outside play.
Identify one of the symptoms of being depressed.
Watch out for when they toss and turn and can’t sleep.
One of the symptoms of depression is the desire to sleep with an inability to fall asleep.
Have a conversation with the teen and ask if they are feeling depressed and be prepared to help or seek help.
Track how much sugar they are consuming.
Sugar has been found to be a cause for health problems and weight gain and increased inability to sleep for hours.
If they have been taking too much sugar, encourage them to cold turkey drop sugar for at least a week and see if they will be able to sleep.
Watch out for too much caffeine or soda.
The youth don’t need caffeine. Most of the time, they will take caffeine to self medicate to stay awake.
Should they take caffeine, it should be before noon. You can encourage them to take a week off caffeine and see if that will help
Gluten intolerance: Celiac disease is a gluten intake problem which can cause sleep deprivation as a symptom. This can be a hidden problem, should you think that this is the case, consult with a physician.
Depression and anxiety can creep in to anyone. For the youth navigating adolescence and the pressures of being a teenage, addressing these two will go a long way in cut the risk of their substance abuse to self medicate or cope.
The goal for every parent is to delay the need for use or abuse as much as possible and eliminating one of the major causes of substance abuse will go along way.
Please feel free to leave a comment below.