Stress and Teen Substance Abuse

April 19, 2019
Stress and Teen Substance Abuse

April is Stress Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness about the causes of stress and its effects on the mind and body. While we often ascribe stress to adult concerns like employment and family obligations, teen stress and anxiety is just as real and valid. Ignoring emotional difficulties as ‘teenage angst’ can create a toxic, harmful situation.

For teens, stress can stem from a variety of sources. From academic pressures, worries about the future, or problems in the home, teens may be ill equipped to cope and turn to illicit means of handling stress. This can include teen drinking and drug use, self-harm, or other self-destructive habits.

What is Stress?

Stress is the body’s natural response to internal or external demands or threats. In response to a physical threat in which one may have to defend oneself or escape (fight or flight), the body releases hormones which heightens the senses and response time. These hormones also increase one’s heart rate and blood pressure, which is why high stress situations can be dangerous for people with certain heart conditions. Other symptoms of stress and stress disorders include:

  • Muscle tension in the neck back, jaw, and face
  • Tension headaches and migraines
  • Insomnia and/or nightmares
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Light-headedness, dizziness
  • Increased anger or hostility
  • Difficulty concentrating or retaining information
  • Toe tapping, fidgeting, and other nervous tics


Stress and Teen Substance Abuse

Adolescence is a vulnerable period of self-growth and development that can be easily detoured by teen drinking and drug use. Without healthy coping skills in place for managing stress, anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges, using illicit substances to avoid and escape these feelings can seem like the best solution. This, however, may lead to addiction as one becomes physically and emotionally dependent on drugs or alcohol.

Stress awareness as a form of teen substance abuse prevention is integral to addressing teen addiction. This begins by recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress in teens, which may include:

  • Decreased academic performance
  • Attendance issues
  • Panic attacks
  • Behavioral issues including verbal and physical aggression
  • Emotional outbursts such as crying or screaming
  • Social isolation
  • Substance use

If your teen is resorting to drinking, smoking, or using drugs to deal with stress, addressing the underlying cause of their substance use is key to recovery. Safe Landing empowers our clients with stress and anger management skills for all the stressful situations one may face in life. By teaching your teen to practice mindfulness and self-care, we help them solidify their commitment to a clean and sober future. Throughout the course of treatment we ensure parents and families are involved every step of the way.

For more information about our treatment services, contact us today!


Alexandrea Holder

Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.