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Poor mental state may precede drug abuse and other risky behavior in teens

Though there is no single reason that an individual turns to substance abuse, federal organizations like the National Institute on Drug Abuse have devoted years to researching this issue in an effort to better identify and combat risk factors. In addition to genetic predisposition and childhood trauma, relatively widespread mental issues like anxiety have also been associated with substance abuse. However, until recently, researchers were unclear whether people suffered from this nervousness because of their drug or drinking habit, or if the anxiety itself played a part in their using.

In order to determine the nature of this connection, physicians from the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, invited 482 people – all of whom were patients at the hospital’s clinic for sexually transmitted diseases – to take a survey every three months for a year. According to a press release, they were asked to provide information regarding their diet, exercise, sleeping patterns, sexual activity and instances of substance abuse including illicit drugs and alcohol. Based on their responses to these questions, which were administered online, the participants were also evaluated the participants for signs of depression, anxiety and stress.

The researchers found a clear link between these pervasive forms of mental illness and more self-destructive life choices in terms of unpredicted sex, poor nutrition and routine use of illicit substances. Typically, the source states, the stress and anxiety either preceded or were concurrent with the “unhealthy behaviors” measured.

“These results show that unhealthy behaviors follow depression, anxiety and stress, rather than giving rise to them,” the press release states.

If your child has turned to alcohol or drugs as a means to escape from these mental difficulties, a professional interventionist may be able to help. We provide youth intervention services tailored to help young addicts recover.

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