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Here’s What Parents Should Know About Teen Crack Cocaine Use

Causes of Teen Crack Cocaine Use

As teens slowly approach adulthood, most of them are exploring and learning more about themselves. While there are many teens who choose to cultivate a sense of self in healthy ways, others decide to experiment and test their boundaries by engaging in risky activities, such as crack cocaine use.

Along with satisfying their curiosity and showing their independence, many teens choose to use crack cocaine to belong in a specific group, experience feelings of euphoria, gain more self-confidence, and be completely comfortable in social settings. These are the primary reasons why teens use crack cocaine.

REASON 1: Peer Pressure

One of the primary reasons why teens use crack cocaine is because of peer pressure. In most cases, teens feel extreme pressure to fit in. Because of this intense pressure, some insecure teens will make decisions based on what their friends and peers want them to do.

According to a study performed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, teens are more prone to engage in risky behavior if their peers are watching. While some teens are able to consider rewards and risks before making a dangerous decision, other teens are not mature enough to control impulse behaviors such as using drugs. Before giving in to peer pressure, teens should make themselves aware of the dangerous side effects of crack cocaine, which could negatively impact their lives.

REASON 2: Euphoria

After teens are pressured into trying cocaine, many become addicted to this drug due to the main high effect called euphoria. Also known as a special kind of extreme pleasure, euphoria is the same feeling associated with a real accomplishment or reward. When teens repeatedly use cocaine, the brain is stimulated to produce these pleasurable feelings over and over again.

REASON 3: Self Confidence

Most teenagers struggle with self-confidence, which is why many teens are drawn toward crack cocaine. While teens are high on cocaine, they will usually feel better about themselves. Often times, teens may even feel superior to their peers when using this dangerous drug. Unfortunately, once teens come down from this cocaine high, they will probably feel worse about themselves than they did before using this drug. As a result, many teens continue using the drug to try to experience greater self-confidence again.

REASON 4: Sociability

Almost every teen wants to feel accepted and valued in social situations. In order to relax and be more comfortable around their peers, some teens use drugs like cocaine. During a cocaine high, many teens can become more talkative and gregarious in social settings.

The fact that cocaine can make users feel more energetic and sociable is another reason why teens prefer crack over other types of drugs. Teens who struggle with social anxieties, extreme shyness, and/or depression are especially attractive to this cocaine effect.

Major Side Effects of Cocaine

Although the cocaine high can make teens feel really good, they should remember that there are severe side effects associated with using this dangerous drug. Depending on the person and the amount of usage, teens may experience any of these effects when using this drug:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Anxiety
  • Extremely hot body temperatures
  • Full-body stimulation
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart problems
  • Hyperactivity
  • Intense sadness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures

Other side effects?

Addiction – Withdrawal – Death.

Such unpleasant side effects can be particularly frustrating to teens who use crack cocaine to make friends with popular peers, experience increased happiness, gain more confidence, and become more sociable.

Risk Factors

There are many factors that influence a teen’s likelihood to use crack cocaine. The more risk factors that are present, the more likely a teen will experiment with the drug to achieve the desired results. The most common risk factors for cocaine drug use are:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor grades
  • Permissive parenting
  • Victim of extreme bullying
  • Parent/sibling drug use

In addition, teens who attend a school without strict rules for drugs or live in a community with a high tolerance for crack cocaine use are more prone to engage in this dangerous drug.

Protective Factors

On the other hand, there are many protective factors that have been shown to significantly decrease the risk of drug use among teens. These include:

  • Being extremely close with a parent or caregiver
  • Maintaining high self-esteem
  • Living in a community with many youth programs
  • Spending time with positive role models
  • Attending a school with a strict no drug policy
  • Participating in regular discussions with a parent about the risks of drug use

The good news is that parents can greatly control many of the risk and protective factors in their homes. Always remember that successful drug prevention is when the risk factors are significantly reduced and the protective factors are greatly increased.

Struggling Teens Should Seek Help

While these common side effects can be extremely unpleasant, with repeated crack use, the brain can begin to associate these symptoms with the enjoyable effects of a cocaine high. The inability of the brain to distinguish between the unpleasant and pleasurable side effects is the main reason why teens become addicted to this substance.

Of course, the best way to prevent cocaine addiction is to avoid drug use completely. Because of its intense pleasurable effect, teens may need a great amount of support from parents, friends, and other loved ones to stop using this drug. Regardless of the circumstances, there is always hope for teens who would like to overcome cocaine addiction for good. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help for your teen if you notice symptoms of crack cocaine use. With drug abuse treatment, your teen can go on to live a happy, healthy, and successful life.

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About Dr. Jeff Nalin, Psy.D.

Dr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY17766), a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist and a Certified Youth Residential Treatment Administrator. Dr. Nalin is the Founder and Clinical Director of Paradigm Malibu and Paradigm San Francisco Adolescent Treatment Centers. He has been responsible for the direct care of young people at multiple institutions of learning including; The Los Angeles Unified School District, the University of California at San Diego, Santa Monica College, and Pacific University. He was instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.