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How Is Mental Health Related to Substance Use in Teens?

In adults, there is a clear connection between mental health disorders and substance abuse. You might be surprised to find that the relationship between substance abuse and mental health is equally significant in teens. 

In this brief article, a team member from Phoenix House Florida substance abuse treatment center in Tampa shares insight into the link between mental health and substance use in teens and young adults, and what to do if you suspect your teen is struggling.

What is the Relationship Between Substance Use and Mental Health in Teens?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction occurs when repeated use of drugs changes how the brain functions over time. Sometimes, what leads to the initial use of drugs or alcohol is a triggering event, a culture of substance use, or the pressures of societal norms. But in teens, what often leads to substance abuse is a struggle with mental health. 

This can be due to teens attempting to self-medicate while struggling with depression or anxiety, or trying to quiet their minds when struggling with untreated ADHD. Substance use can also create mental health issues. For example, a teen with a substance use disorder is more likely to have a mood, anxiety, learning, or behavioral disorder, too. 

In many cases, the symptoms of substance abuse can mimic the symptoms of mental health disorders, and vise-versa. Furthermore, drug use can make accurately diagnosing other mental health problems more complicated. 

For example, a teen who is regularly drinking alcohol might seem more tired than usual, withdrawn, or even aggressive. These are all also symptoms of depression. A teen who is struggling with these issues can become stuck in a cycle of feeling depressed and drinking to numb the depression, thereby worsening the symptoms of both – all while their parents aren’t sure if it’s the depression causing the issues, the alcohol, or both.

How to Treat Struggles With Mental Health and Drug Use

If your child is struggling with substance use and mental health issues, it’s hard to know where to begin to get them the help they need. Although their pediatrician might be well-meaning, if they prescribe antidepressants without realizing your child is using other substances, you may run into more problems. That’s why the best thing to do is to discuss your concerns with specialists in substance abuse treatment in Tampa

If you suspect that your child is struggling with addiction, help is available with Phoenix House Florida. Licensed therapists will help you and your child address and unlock the causes behind the addictive behaviors in order to treat the disease of addiction.  

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, speak with someone from substance abuse treatment in Tampa at Phoenix House Florida. To schedule a consultation with Phoenix House Florida, please request an appointment today.


Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for general educational purposes only. All content and media on the Phoenix House Florida website does not constitute professional medical advice nor is the information intended to replace the services provided by Phoenix House Florida or other qualified medical professionals. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Outpatient treatment must follow a continuum of care that starts with a thorough needs assessment and ends with recovery monitoring.

The Derek Jeter Center

The Derek Jeter Center Adolescent program in Brandon, FL provides comprehensive outpatient services that help families deal with teen substance use and related mental health conditions.

At Our House

For some patients, stepping away from the buzz of everyday life is the only way to make a full recovery. Inpatient treatments help patients refocus their recovery efforts to achieve positive, long-lasting outcomes.