Psychologists Identify Major Risks Associated With Teen Substance Abuse

Although drug and alcohol abuse is on the decline among American teenagers, addiction issues are still common — and those issues often go hand in hand with dangerous behaviors, according to recent research.

A study published last month in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse identifies some alarming behavioral tendencies among teenagers with substance abuse issues — from being at high risk for driving while under the influence, to engaging in unprotected sex, to being less likely to volunteer their time helping others.

Developmental psychologists from Case Western Reserve University who conducted the research found that these behaviors seem to be driven by a lack of awareness and concern for others.

“Alcoholics have been described as a ‘tornado running through the lives of others,'” Dr. Maria Pagano, a professor of child psychiatry at the university and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Results from this study suggest that alcoholics lack awareness of others and how their actions impact others, rather than being sociopaths or intending to harm others.”

Of course, egocentrism and self-absorption is natural in adolescence. But Pagano pointed out that adolescents with addiction might be particularly deficient in their awareness of others.

For the study, the researchers recruited 585 Ohio high school students, some of whom were being treated for addiction at a large residential facility in the northeastern part of the state. The sample included 390 students who reported little or no drug or alcohol use and 195 students with addictions.

Each student with addiction was matched based on age, gender, race and home zip code with another student who had no history of drug and alcohol use, and one student with some past experience of drugs and alcohol. The researchers compared the trios of students based on behaviors, including —> Read More