Vaping, over-the-counter medicines trending among teens

The latest data in teen substance use show that misperceptions of safety are driving adolescents toward the use of certain substances. With ease of access, more youth are turning to vapes and over-the-counter medicine, according to the 2021 Monitoring the Future survey produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

NIDA’s research showed that vaping among teens has increased markedly over the past four years, and medicine misuse has jumped for eighth-graders over the past five years. Marijuana remains the most commonly used substance for adolescents, and also the most frequently treated addiction by Rosecrance’s adolescent counselors. Though marijuana usage has remained steady for a decade, it bears watching as the drug becomes more acceptable to society.

“There is a common misconception among adolescents that if someone prescribes it, or they can get it at the store, it’s OK,” said Rosecrance Griffin Williamson Campus Clinical Director Jason Relle. “They don’t realize that habits could start innocently but eventually they could have long-term impacts on the developing brain.”

What if someone is concerned for a teen they care about? Be involved in the adolescent’s life so they know you are a safe, supportive person who wants the best for them.

In addition, watch for differences in behavior or attitude that might indicate substance use or mental health issues. Indicators to look for include changes in peer groups, social habits, schoolwork, or clothing. In addition, sudden secretive behavior, bloodshot eyes, and shakiness could be signs of a problem.

“Let the teen know that you’re there for them and that you want to know how they are doing,” Relle said. “It’s important for anyone, especially an adolescent trying to figure out life, to have someone there to support them.”

Rosecrance offers a safe environment for treatment and a comprehensive continuum of care. Adolescents can receive residential, outpatient or intensive outpatient treatment that will meet their needs. Treatment is designed to renew the mind, body, and spirit through experiential therapies and practical interventions that build valuable life skills.

“The staff clients work with are compassionate and supportive because they really care,” Relle said. “We also treat each person as an individual with their own needs and interests in order to provide hope for whatever that next step is.”