Dating and Sexual Experience, Smoking, Drug and Alcoholism Making Teenagers Psychologically More Aged
Adolescence is a time for trying new things. Teens use alcohol and other drugs for many reasons, including curiosity, because it feels good, to reduce stress, and to feel grown up or to fit in. It is difficult to know which teens will experiment and stop and which will develop serious problems.Symptoms vary depending on developmental age but usually involve impairment in some aspect of their life, such as avoidance of situations or an inability to focus on homework. Teenagers at risk for developing serious alcohol and drug problems include those:
- with a family history of substance abuse
- who are depressed
- who have low self-esteem
- who feel like they don't fit in or are out of the mainstream.
Lifestyle, peer pressure, and curiosity are reasons, especially for young people, to engage in sex, smoking, alcohol drinking, and drugs, all which can affect dire reproductive outcomes.Dating behavior commonly entails conversations, holding hands, and hugs. A third among them reported kissing (cheeks, lips). Some reported ever caressing genital areas, and a few went as far as petting without penetration.
Alcohol use among teens increases dramatically during the high-school years, and leads to serious consequences for many teens.Teens who drink are more likely to become sexually active, have sex more frequently and engage in risky, unprotected sex than teens who don't drink.Each year in the United States, 85,000 deaths, along with substantial disability from medical and psychiatric consequences, injuries, and "secondhand" effects (e.g., motor vehicle crashes), are attributed to the use of alcohol.
Explain that no one should have sex out of a sense of obligation or fear. Any form of forced sex is rape, whether the perpetrator is a stranger or someone your child has been dating. Impress upon your child that no always means no. Emphasize that alcohol and drugs impair judgment and reduce inhibitions, leading to situations in which date rape is more likely to occur.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents.Childhood sexual assault has been linked with depression, alcohol use and violence, making it a likely risk factor for a suicide attempt. Dating violence has also been shown to be associated with depressive symptoms and multiple health compromising behaviors.
The researchers ruled out the possibility that teens simply substitute risky sexual behaviors for which pregnancy is not a concern, such as oral or anal intercourse, because these activities still could transmit gonorrhea. The use of birth control pills also would not protect against the sexually transmitted disease.
Teenagers should be avoiding or postponing sexual activity, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy or emotional and societal responsibilities for which they are not prepared.Study shows the negative mental side effects of a teenager's loss of virginity are confined to mainly young girls and both boys and girls who have sex earlier than their peers and whose relationships are uncommitted and ultimately fall apart.Girls are particularly vulnerable to depression.
Teenagers abuse a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. Legal available drugs include alcohol, prescribed medications, inhalants (fumes from glues, aerosols, and solvents), and over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep, and diet medications.Drug use is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including increased risk of serious drug use later in life, school failure, and poor judgment that may put teens at risk for accidents, violence, unplanned and unsafe sex, and suicide.
Teens who have sex, drink or use drugs feel "older for their age" than their less-experienced peers, a new study shows.
But it's not clear if feeling older makes teens more likely to engage in sex or try substances or if these experiences themselves make adolescents feel older, the researchers say. "It could be a bidirectional relationship," Kelly J. Arbeau of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.
Studies have shown that adolescence is the only time in life when people consistently feel older than their actual age, she and her colleagues note in the Journal of Adolescence. During the 20s, the difference between actual age and experienced age shrinks, and by the 30s, people feel younger than their real age, a difference that continues into old age.
Arbeau and her team looked at the concept of "subjective experience of age" in 664 boys and girls between 12 and 19 years old to determine how it compared with their actual age, dating and sexual experience, cigarette smoking, and drug and alcohol use. Study participants were asked to rate how old they felt in relationship to their same-age peers on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "a lot younger" and 5 being "a lot older."
The older the study participants were, the older they felt for their age, the researchers found. Boys and girls dating someone older tended to feel older, as did those who were having sex. And the earlier a teen started having sex, the older he or she felt.
Teens who used alcohol and drugs also tended to report feeling older than their chronological age. Boys who smoked saw themselves as older, but smoking didn't affect girls' subjective experience of age. "It's entirely possible that the antismoking campaigns are having an effect for girls," Arbeau said, meaning "they don't see it as a cool or mature activity anymore."
The findings, Arbeau said, may help explain why some adolescents engage in risky behaviors. Kids who think of themselves as more mature, she noted, may be more likely to have sex, drink or use drugs because they don't see these experiences as being dangerous for them.
The results may also be useful for parents of teenagers, she added, because adolescents who feel older than their real age may respond better when their parents talk to them as if they actually were more mature.
Treating drug abuse can have a vital role in our response to the AIDS epidemic.Community-based evaluation reveals that abstinence-only intervention can influence knowledge, beliefs and intentions, and among sexually experienced students, may reduce the prevalence of casual sex,researchers adding that the intent of teens to reduce their condom use merits further study to determine long-term implications.
Risk factors for teenage smoking have been identified, and these risk factors offer points for intervention: smoking among peers, parental smoking and other familial influences, latent susceptibility, and beliefs,attitudes, and self-images.
In addition to talking to their children, parents can do many things that make a difference in whether teens start having sex, Blum said. Parents need to know their teens' friends and speak with their friends' parents. Most importantly, teens, and especially younger teens, who feel close to their mothers are less likely to start having sex. Findings from other Add Health research have also shown that teens whose parents value education are less likely to have sex.
The negative image of the drug addict in the society is well established in the mind of the participants and this appeared to be a strong deterrent for adopting this risky behaviour by adolescents. Any preventive campaign can take advantage of this fact and strengthen this image to discourage future abusers. It is interesting to note that, of those who responded positively with respect to making friends with a known abuser, the majority were willing to help that person get rid of this practice.