Teens and drugs: Drug use statistics and treatment that works

Here are some drug use statistics:

  • Over 80% of teens engage in some form of deviant behavior (1).
  • Over 50% of high-school seniors admit to having used drugs (2).
  • Only 10%-15% of the population develop drug addiction problems related to their drug use (1).

The question is:

If the majority of teens experiment with drug use, and so few eventually develop drug addiction problems, should we be focusing on something other than stopping kids from trying drugs? Continue reading “Teens and drugs: Drug use statistics and treatment that works”

Addiction stories: How I recovered from my addiction to crystal meth

By the time I was done with my addiction to crystal meth, I had racked up 4 arrests, 9 felonies, a $750,000 bail, a year in jail, and an eight year suspended sentence to go along with my 5 year probation period. Though I think education is important to keep getting the message out about addiction and drug abuse, there is no doubt that addiction stories do a great job of getting the message across, so here goes.

My crystal meth addiction story

The kid my parents knew was going nowhere, and fast. That’s why I was surprised when they came to my rescue after 3 years of barely speaking to them. My lawyer recommended that I check into a rehab facility immediately; treating my drug abuse problem was our only line of legal defense.

cocaine linesI had long known that I had an addiction problem when I first checked myself into rehab. Still, my reason for going in was my legal trouble. Within 3 months, I was using crystal meth again, but the difference was that this time, I felt bad about it. I had changed in those first three months. The daily discussions in the addiction treatment facility, my growing relationship with my parents, and a few sober months (more sobriety than I had in years) were doing their job. I relapsed as soon as I went back to work in my studio, which was a big trigger for me, but using wasn’t any fun this time.

I ended up being kicked out of that facility for providing a meth-positive urine test. My parents were irate. I felt ashamed though I began using daily immediately. My real lesson came when I dragged myself from my friend’s couch to an AA meeting one night. I walked by a homeless man who was clearly high when the realization hit me:

I was one step away from becoming like this man.

You see, when I was in the throes of my crystal meth addiction, I had money because I was selling drugs. I had a great car, a motorcycle, an apartment and my own recording studio. After my arrest though, all of that had been taken away. I just made matters worse by getting myself thrown out of what was serving as my home, leaving myself to sleep on a friend’s couch for the foreseeable future.

Something had to change.

homelessI woke up the next morning, smoked some meth, and drove straight to an outpatient drug program offered by my health insurance. I missed the check-in time for that day, but I was told to come back the next morning, which I did. I talked to a counselor, explained my situation, and was given a list of sober-living homes to check out.

As I did this, I kept going to the program’s outpatient meetings, high on crystal meth, but ready to make a change. I was going to do anything I could so as not to end up homeless, or a lifetime prisoner. I had no idea how to stop doing the one thing that had been constant in my life since the age of 15, but I was determined to find out.

When I showed up at the sober-living facility that was to be the place where I got sober, I was so high I couldn’t face the intake staff. I wore sunglasses indoors at 6 PM. My bags were searched, I was shown to my room, and the rest of my life began.

I wasn’t happy to be sober, but I was happier doing what these people told me than I was fighting the cops, the legal system, and the drugs. I had quite a few missteps, but I took my punishments without a word, knowing they were nothing compared to the suffering I’d experience if I left that place.

Overall, I have one message to those struggling with getting clean:

If you want to get past the hump of knowing you have a problem but not knowing what to do about it, the choice has to be made clear. This can’t be a game of subtle changes. No one wants to stop using if the alternative doesn’t seem a whole lot better. For most of us, that means hitting a bottom so low that I can’t be ignored. You get to make the choice of what the bottom will be for you.

You don’t have to almost die, but you might; losing a job could be enough, but if you miss that sign, the next could be the streets; losing your spouse will sometimes do it, but if not, losing your shared custody will hurt even more.

At each one of these steps, you get to make a choice – Do I want things to get worse or not?

Ask yourself that question while looking at the price you’ve paid up to now. If you’re willing to go even lower for that next hit, I say go for it. If you think you want to stop but can’t seem to really grasp just how far you’ve gone, get a friend you trust, a non-using friend, and have them tell you how they see the path your life has taken.

It’s going to take a fight to get out, but if I beat my addiction, you can beat yours.

By now, I’ve received my Ph.D. from UCLA, one of the top universities in the world. I study addiction research, and publish this addiction blog along with a Psychology Today column and a number of academic journals. I also have my mind set on changing the way our society deals with drug abuse and addiction. Given everything I’ve accomplished by now, the choice should have seemed clear before my arrest – but it wasn’t. I hope that by sharing addiction stories, including mine, we can start that process.

About Addiction: Alcohol, drugs, marriage, taxes, and teens

You’ve come back and we love it! As a reward, we’re going to give you some of the best information about addiction on the web, free of charge. Really! No, seriously, we’re really happy to have you back learning about addiction here on A3. Now go on.

Alcohol: Marriage, Sports Games, and Price Planning

Science Daily– We have already talked about what alcoholism can do to you body as well as what it can do to your brain on A3. This article highlights what it could do to your marriage, specifically delaying it and possibly causing early separation. Just one more thing to think about for those thinking of tying the knot any time soon.

BBC News-In an effort to reduce crime in England the government wants to set a minimum price for alcohol so that it could no longer be sold at a price that is untaxable. Home Office projections indicate 7000 crimes could be cut in a year. The increase in cost would also result in a benefit to the nation’s health given projections form Sheffield University, which estimated last year that raising the price of alcohol to a minimum of 50p per unit would mean that after a decade there would be almost 3,000 fewer deaths every year and 41,000 fewer cases of chronic illness. The projection are dependent on the notion that price will affect demand and therefore use, something that has been shown to be less true among dependent individuals.

Med – A new study found that alcohol dependence is a strong predictor of early separation in marriage. In addition to this finding the results showed that if an individuals parents were dependent on alcohol  both men and women were more likely to separate early in marriage. This some very early evidence, but more research is being conducted.

Science Daily– Often times sports games are a great way to have fun. However, about eight percent of fans are legally drunk after leaving sports games according to a recent study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (ACER). Researchers administered a breath test and found that 60% of the fans had zero BAC, 40% had a positive BAC, and nearly 8% were legally drunk. This problem could be resolved through better training of alcohol servers, and setting a limit to how much alcohol an individual can purchase, about 74% of the time an intoxicated individual was still able to buy alcohol. That is assuming these people are getting into cars and driving or starting fights… Otherwise, I say let them drink and walk it off.

Drugs: Texting & Fighting Teen Drug Use

News Feed– Restricting texting for teenagers may be a good idea as a new study shows that teens who “hyper-text” ( text more than 120 times a day) are more likely to be sexually active, drink alcohol and do illegal drugs compared to teens that text less. I wonder if they’re also sexting more… maybe while drunk or high. I guess future research should examine negative outcomes in this group – addiction, pregnancy, arrest and so on.

Time– The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has declared Nov. 8–14 National Drug Facts Week, in order to help prevent teen drug problems. The goal of this drug facts week is to present teens with factual information about drugs and drug abuse. Read this article and take NIDA’s Drug IQ Challenge here (warning: the online quiz begins with the loud sound of shattering glass, which may jolt adult nerves). Effective drug prevention requires open and honest communication information about drugs between parents and children.

Drug abuse and teens – The adolescent addiction challenge.

Guest author: Clint Stonebraker

teen-smokingRecovery from any addiction is a difficult process. It involves an individual’s willingness to take responsibility for his or her actions, a concrete decision to make significant lifestyle changes, and the courage to repair damaged relationships. The level of emotional maturity involved in taking these steps is usually somewhat foreign to an addict.

What about a person who is suffering from addiction and is, developmentally speaking, still a child? How does this person muster the emotional maturity needed to begin the recovery process?

I had the opportunity to work with a seventeen year old whose father had recently been treated for alcoholism. The father had suffered numerous consequences related to his alcohol problem including multiple D.U.I.’s and a divorce. By the time he sought treatment, the father was motivated to make a life change. He understood the root of his life problems revolved around alcohol abuse and had a desire to take responsibility for his actions.

When it came to the son, things weren’t that simple…

The seventeen year old had also suffered numerous consequences related to his drug abuse. He had already been arrested twice and had left home four months prior to seeing me. In fact, he clearly stated the only reason he agreed to the appointment was because his father had made it a part of the criteria for the boy to come home. He still believed the problems in his life were due to others not “leaving him alone.”

teensFor decades the adolescent substance abuse problem has gotten progressively worse. There have been prevention programs which have had some success, but adolescents continue to abuse drugs and alcohol at an alarming rate.

Because of this, it is important for anyone who works with adolescents to understand this unique population:

  • The conscious motivation for most adolescents to abuse drugs and alcohol is different than that of an adult. An adolescent who engages in substance abuse is seeking fun and peer acceptance, whereas the adult is seeking pain relief.
  • In most cases adolescents have yet to face the same level of physical or emotional consequences most adult addicts have faced
  • The adult addict is responsible for all aspects of his or her life, the adolescent isn’t

These are just a few of the differences between adults and adolescents with substance abuse issues. Some of the challenges in treatment include:

  • Creating an environment in which the adolescent has fun and gains peer acceptance. Developmentally these are needs which must be addressed
  • Helping an emotionally immature child take enough internal responsibility for his or her actions to be motivated to change
  • Showing an adolescent how to maintain healthy balance in his or her emotional life, in other words, limiting the emotional extremes

The biggest mistake clinicians make in treating adolescent substance abuse is assuming the adolescent is capable of dealing with life like an adult. In most cases, an adolescent must be able to see recovery as an attractive lifestyle. An adolescent substance abuser already has a general lack of trust with adults or any other “authority” figures. It is critical to maintain patience in order to gain the trust of an adolescent. Once trust is established, it is possible to reach an adolescent at their level.

When it came to this seventeen-year-old son, I knew that in order for this young man to begin the recovery process, he would need to see sobriety as an attractive lifestyle choice. I was aware of a group that held regular support group meetings specifically for young people. They also facilitated social events on the weekend.

As a part of the therapeutic process, I included his involvement with this group. The combination of counseling and a peer support system gave this young man a comprehensive plan of action.

As a result of beginning to associate sobriety with feeling good, he became more responsive to counseling. Over time he began to take more responsibility for his actions. He had a group of peers with whom he was accountable, could have fun, and network.

His father was involved in this process through his own counseling and involvement in a parent support group. Over time this young man was able to stay sober and reacclimatize himself into society.


This story illustrates key components of a process of recovery for adolescents. Over time an adolescent can begin to see the consequences of his or her actions. It is important to keep in mind what adolescents respond to. It is not one element that provides the key to adolescent recovery. It is the combination of therapy, peer support, and family involvement which provides the best opportunity for an adolescent to recover from addiction.

If we want to weaken the connection between teens and drugs, we have to start using what works.

Actor Chris Klein in rehab – Facing jail time after second DUI

Actor Chris Klein has checked himself into rehab following his second DUI arrest that occurred on June 16. A police officer pulled him over after he was spotted swerving across the westbound 101 Freeway in Los Angeles. His blood alcohol content was nearly three times the limit of .08.

Chris Klein was previously arrested on DUI charges in 2005 and his PR rep issued the following statement:

“After recent events, Chris was forced to take a clear look at a problem he has been trying to deal with himself for years. He understands now that he can not beat this disease alone. He thanks everyone for their support as he takes all the necessary steps to deal with his addiction and asks for privacy while doing so.”

Klein is receiving treatment at the Cirque Lodge in Utah. The Cirque Lodge may sound familiar to you as Mary Kate Olson, Eva Mendes, and yes, Lindsay Lohan have received treatment there as well. Klein is enrolled in a 30-day alcohol addiction program and plans to stay longer if needed.

The L.A. City Attorney’s office says Chris Klein faces four days in jail (a slap on the wrist?) if he is convicted of his second DUI offense. In accordance with a California law for repeat DUI offenders, Klein will also have to install an interlock device in his car if he wishes to drive again. This device will require him to perform a breathalyzer test in order to start the engine.

Contributing co-author: Andrew Chen

Lohan at it again – gets new SCRAM bracelet

Lindsay LohanIt seems that Lindsay Lohan got  herself in some trouble again, this time because she failed to show up to a court hearing and was partying on a yacht in France instead. An irate judge wanted her arrested, but when her lawyer posted bail for her, she got to walk in to court herself and face her punishment.

Lindsay is going to have to wear a SCRAM bracelet that will monitor her drinking through her skin at all times during the day. The SCRAM bracelet provides Lohan’s supervisor with more than 48 daily alcohol tests to make sure that the actress can’t drink at all.

Everyone (almost) knows about Lohan’s repeat visits to different California addiction-treatment facilities (most recently Promises), and it’s important to note that this recent incident doesn’t necessarily mean that Lindsay is having serious drug, or alcohol, problems. All we know is that she has a hard time showing up to court on time and is paying the price.

I think it’s sad that we only get to hear from people like Lindsay when she gets herself in trouble and that we don’t get to hear about her successes, which, given the fact that she hasn’t been arrested since 2007, must exist. True, she’s seemed to have some trouble obeying court orders, but I’d be interested to know how her own personal battle with bad-decisions-brought-on-by-alcohol-and-drugs has been going…

About Addiction: Alcohol, breast cancer & war veterans

Check out our weekly links about addiction!

Health Day: A new study shows that breast cancer survivors who smoke are at increased risk for a second cancer. The time frame to develop second cancer is fifteen years.

Cesar Fax: Drug positives increase consistently with age amongst DC juvenile arrestees. 53% of the juvenile arrestees tested positive for drugs.

Psychology Today: An article from Psychology Today (which Adi has been writing for so check them out!) and discusses the issue of war veterans and drug use as well as PTSD. It relates the discussion to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Science Daily: There are some new insights into how alcohol affects brain function. Drinking alcohol over a long period of time does profoundly affect the brain.

Science Daily: More about alcohol! According to Science Daily, genetic differences that make you sleepy when you drink can protect against alcohol dependence.