Top 5 Addictions Killing American Teens

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Addiction can affect anybody, even teenagers

A large number of deaths among youths are attributed to the abuse of drugs and even alcohol. Teens may have a variety of reasons of why they use: family environment, peer pressure, trauma, and so on. So it’s not uncommon for them to turn to drugs and alcohol to suppress their pain; and it’s also not uncommon for teens to keep it to themselves.

Abuse of these drugs and alcohol have costed the lives of teens. Overdose of prescription drugs has led to failure of the heart and brain, heroine, Meth, alcohol and cocaine cause numbness that one can easily injure themselves and bleed to death.

Teens also down alcohol mixed with other illicit drugs and end up driving while intoxicated, resulting in fatal road accidents. Drugs also cause severe depression which has led many to commit suicide. 

It’s important, as parents, to recognize the symptoms for each addiction. Only then will you be able to take the steps necessary in helping your loved one seek help.

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Heroin is a highly addictive drug that produces a surge of euphoria accompanied by the worming up of the skin. It is used as a strong depressant drug and can be introduced to the body through smoking, sniffing or injection.

Frequently injection of heroin into the body causes veins to collapse and can also lead to infection of blood vessels. Other effects include:

  • Inflammation of gums
  • Constipation
  • Cold sweats
  • Itching
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Weakening of the immune system
  • Partial paralysis
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of memory and intellectual performance.

The drug damages major body organs such as lungs, the brain, heart and kidneys. This simply means that in the long run death is the eventuality of most heroin addicts.


Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive drug just like heroin. It also has the medication in effect of intense euphoria. It is introduced to the body through smoking or injection.

The drug has serious health risks such as molecular changes occurring in the brain, which can continue even after one stops using. Meth, as it is often called, has other negative effects such as:

  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Extreme loss of weight
  • Damage to the teeth
  • Increased respiration
  • Rapid heart rate, and an irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Extreme body temperatures.


Cocaine is a strong stimulant mostly used as recreational drug. It can be injected, rubbed onto the gums or sniffed. The drug is also smoked. The long term effect of cocaine abuse are:

  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Restlessness and panic attacks
  • Paranoia.
  • Heart failure
  • Depression

Fatal effects are failure of body organs like liver, kidney and lungs, resulting in death of the abuser.

Prescription drugs

In recent times, prescription drugs or pharmaceuticals have been abused by teens at an alarming rate. They may be tranquillizers, stimulants, or pain killers. Among the youth, the rate of current non-medical use of prescription type of drugs is high. These drugs are administered to the body through injections and orally.


Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed in the stomach. It is usually administered to the body orally. Drinking too much on a single occasion or over a long period of time is dangerous to your health. The short term side effects of alcohol are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Poor concentration
  • Slow reflexes and reaction time

Some long term effects of alcohol abuse include:

  • Liver cancer
  • Complications of the heart
  • Cirrhosis
  • Stomach ulcers
  • High blood pressure

What can be done to remedy this situation? For starters, more effort should be put in creating awareness about drugs and drug abuse, the importance of rehabilitation for affected teens and encouraging teens to engage in up building activities such as sports, music and art, hobbies, etc. The media has a huge role to play in this considering the amount of misleading out there. It is time we addressed this issue and helped our teens.

If you suspect a loved one is struggling with addiction, take our Addiction Assessment and find out the first steps.


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