The Truth About Teen Addiction

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The numbers don’t lie—teen drug addiction

is an epidemic. Nearly 15% of high school students have abused illegal drugs and 14% misused prescription opioids. These alarming stats mean your teen could be at risk.

Teen drug use often leads to risky behaviors. Those abusing prescriptions are more prone to dating violence. Injection drug use, like heroin, directly increases the chances of getting HIV or overdosing. All drug use places teens in danger of poor mental health, suicide, and unsafe sex.

Watch for withdrawal from family, dropping grades, new friends, or secrecy. Talk to your teen and set clear rules against drug use. Get help from a medical professional if needed. Together, we can combat this crisis and give youth a chance at a healthy future.

young man struggling with addiction

Common Addictions in Teens

A recent survey found that the most common addictions in teens are alcohol, vaping, nicotine, and cannabis. For the most part, reported levels of use have remained steady over the past couple of years, though some substances did see an uptick.

  • Nicotine and Vaping: Nearly 1 in 3 high school seniors admitted to vaping nicotine in the past year. Vaping may seem cool and harmless, but nicotine is highly addictive, and vaping can damage your lungs.
  • Alcohol: Almost 1 in 3 teens drink alcohol, and binge drinking is rampant. Alcohol may lower your inhibitions and seem like a quick fix for anxiety or stress, but it’s terrible for your health and development.
  • Cannabis: Nearly 1 in 5 teens use cannabis, and vaping cannabis is growing in popularity. Weed, pot, or cannabis, whatever you call it, can negatively impact your memory, mental health, and motivation.
  • Prescription drugs: According to recent surveys, the use of narcotics (Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet) increased slightly among 12th graders between 2021 and 2022, consistent with the pre-pandemic levels observed in 2019 and 2020.
  • Social media and technology: While not officially classified as an “addiction,” excessive social media and technology use can be problematic for teens. Things like social media, online gaming, and even phone use release dopamine, activating the brain’s reward center and reinforcing the behavior.
mother yelling at young teenage daughter over drinking habits

Risk Factors for High-Risk Substance Use Among Teens

As a parent, it’s important to understand the risk factors that could make your teen more vulnerable to substance abuse. Family history plays a role, so if addiction runs in your family, be extra vigilant.

Favorable Parental Attitudes

If you or other family members use drugs or alcohol regularly, your teen may view this behavior as acceptable or “normal.” Set a positive example by limiting your substance use.

Lack of Parental Monitoring

Do you know where your teen goes after school or who their friends are? Lack of parental supervision and involvement in your teen’s life can increase the risk of substance abuse. Set clear rules and boundaries, monitor their activities, and stay engaged in their life.

Rejection Due to Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

Teens who feel rejected by their families due to their LGBTQ identity are at higher risk of turning to drugs or alcohol. Provide your teen with love, support, and acceptance. Let them know you care about their well-being.

Association With Delinquent or Substance-Using Peers

Hanging out with friends who use drugs or alcohol significantly increases the likelihood of a teen developing an addiction. Their peers may encourage substance use through peer pressure or make substances easily available to them.

Lack Of School Connectedness

Teens who feel little connection to their school or teachers have a higher risk of substance use. Encourage your teen to participate in extracurricular activities to foster positive relationships and connections with peers and mentors. Get to know your teen’s teachers and stay involved in their education.

Low Academic Achievement

Teens who struggle in school or have learning disabilities are more prone to addiction. Provide your teen with tutoring or learning support if needed. Give them praise and rewards for their efforts and achievements to keep them motivated.

Childhood Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, teens who were sexually abused as children have a higher likelihood of developing an addiction. Seek counseling or therapy for your teen to help them healthily work through their trauma. Be vigilant for signs of addiction and get them help right away if needed.

Mental Health Issues

Teens dealing with conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, or ADHD also have a higher risk of addiction. Get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan from a doctor, which may include therapy, medication, or other interventions.

Getting Help for Your Teen

The teen years can be difficult to navigate for both parents and kids. It’s normal for teens to experiment, push boundaries, and take risks as they figure out their identity and place in the world. However, some risk-taking behaviors can be a sign that your teen is struggling with addiction or substance abuse.

Don’t hesitate to call the Launch Centers helpline or set up an appointment with an addiction specialist. They are trained to assess if your teen meets the criteria for addiction and recommend an appropriate level of treatment. Depending on the severity, outpatient counseling, support groups, and inpatient rehab are options. The most important thing is getting your teen the help they need as early as possible.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

staff member drug alcohol treatment los angeles

Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

treatment team los angeles ca

Eric Chaghouri, MD


chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.

  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.


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