Adolescent Addiction

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Adolescent Addiction

It can start innocently enough, with mom and dad allowing their adolescent children to drink at home. The reasoning is straight forward—they want the child to drink at home so they won’t have to drive the car, or worry about getting into trouble out on the street, or get hurt. They reason that the child is going to drink anyway, so let it be in the safe confines of the house. Little do they realize that allowing Adolescents to drink is an invitation to ruin their lives and lead to Adolescent Addiction.

Commonly, Adolescents will begin using a substance because their friends are doing it. Alcohol is common, but outside of that marijuana is by far the illicit drug most commonly abused by young people 12-17 years of age. Even in grade schools, intermediate schools and middle schools, there are drugs and marijuana is chief among them. Both alcohol and marijuana, along with tobacco, are gateway drugs that lead Adolescents down a miserable road of Adolescent Addiction.

Don’t underestimate the power of friends

They will start for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the old nemesis, peer pressure. Adolescents feel the need to fit in, even more than an adult, and sometimes that means going along with the crowd and doing what the crowd is doing.

Sadly, some Adolescents will begin using a substance just because they like the way they feel when they use it. It goes beyond merely getting high and having a good time with friends. They use because it’s the only time they feel good and the substance is the means by which they feel normal. Kids who are shy, or have low self esteem are particularly susceptible to abusing drugs and alcohol. They may feel they are out of step with the rest of the kids, so the drugs are an escape from the limitations of their world.

The younger they are the worse the problem likely to become and Adolescent Addiction is possible.

The major problem contributing Adolescents addiction is the fact that the younger one starts using, the more apt they are to falling into the addiction trap. For example, if a child starts drinking beer at age 15, he/she is five times more likely to develop the disease of alcoholism than someone who waits until age 21 to have their first drink. There is a drinking age for a very good reason, even thought that has been a political hot button issue for many years.

Adolescents are naturally curious. Breaking down the age groups of people who have either abused drugs or have developed addiction, by far the largest percentage was the 12-17 group, as 60.6% fell into that group. As expected the 18-25 group was next at 34.4% and the last was the 26 and older at 24.3%. It just shows that the younger a person starts the more likely they are to get into trouble.

The problem is many parents are completely caught off guard when their child gets into trouble. They may not know what to look for, or what to do once the symptoms of adolescent addiction are manifest. Parents need to be vigilant. Some of the signs might be that the child is slipping in school, maybe ever slow slightly by a half a grade, but sometimes kids who used to earn A’s are now earning D’s or F’s. That’s a huge red flag.

Losing Interest

Adolescents are very peer conscious and they are often concerned about how they look, what they wear etc. A sign that a kid is in trouble is when the lose interest in that, perhaps letting themselves go unkempt or radically changing some “goth” look. Another sign is if the kid changes friends. For example, a boy likes sports but over time no longer hangs out with the “jacks” but elects to hang with a new set of friends. Why? They sometimes lose interest in friends at all, and may avoid family contact, electing to hide out in their room.

Still other signs include health issues, such as a loss of weight, or a change in sleep patterns. Adolescents may want to sleep until noon anyway, but when they are sleeping all the time, or not sleeping at all, that’s an issue.

A teen may suddenly have a need for money but will not offer an explanation as to why they need it, or worse yet, they may begin to steal money from their family, or sell household objects to get drug money.

Know your teen, look for changes

Parents need to watch for changes in behavior. Are they growing more moody than the expected adolescent? I’ve often joked that teenagers are supposed to rebel against their parents, but when that rebellion becomes hatred or extreme rebellion, that’s a problem and a sign that something is seriously wrong.

Another important thing to understand is that the human brain does not mature until a person is around 24 years-old. That’s an important number. The first thing that will fully develop is the cerebellum, controlling motor function and sensory processing. Even an early adolescent can look like an adult and maybe even have the physical skills of an adult, but they are still a child.

Reduced Motivation

The neucleus accumbens regulates motivation. They may have the body of an adult and the motivation of an adult, but they are still a child. The amygdale matures next, controlling emotions. Lastly, the frontal cortex matures, and this is what regulates judgment. The last thing to mature is judgment, which is why in college athletics and even in professional sports, you can have a man-child earning millions of dollars, but they have the emotional development of an adolescent. They lack control and judgment. This is why Adolescents are at such high risk for addiction.

Can drink A LOT!

Adolescents also have a larger capacity for drinking and can consume large amounts before getting drunk. They lack the judgment to know when they need help, or when they have had enough or gone too far. Family members need to be watchful for the signs and intercede when they appear.

Adolescent addiction is not just a phase or a right of passage or something they will grow out of. It is a serious health issue and a potentially deadly disease that robs them of their humanity, ruins their career opportunities, crushes their family relationships and destroys their life.

However, treatment is available and it can be effective in restoring all that the disease has stripped away. Adolescent addiction can be resilient and can get their lives back on track with the right program and the right guidance.

Recovery is POSSIBLE!

I am in need of your support.

by Verne Johnson
(Byron, IL)


I was born Verne Johnson on May 22nd in Rockford, IL. For most of my prime years, I was known has a former gang member, drug dealer and addict in the Rockford Region. After years of running the streets and running from God’s calling on my life, I finally surrendered. I got myself into church, and begin working with some of the men in the church that had the same struggles such as: gang violence, drug dealing, incarceration, drug use and growing up fatherless.

A couple years later I started to volunteer my time to help others, as my enter man started to change so did my outer man. I started volunteering at the Rockford Rescue Mission and Salvation Army, serving food to the less fortunate. I realized by helping others I was helping myself. In the beginning, I worked four years without pay helping Rockford M.E.L.D individuals. A program for young mothers and fathers.

As a mentor and facilitator I ran the educational groups for young men in and out of the program. I slowly started to see the calling on my life a bit clearer, after talking with an old friend about needing good men like myself to work with recovering addicts and alcoholics at Rosecrance Treatment Center. I would think about it for about a year,

Then I finally started my career at Rosecrance Treatment Center in Rockford, Illinois. For over ten years the Lord has blessed me with the ability and wisdom to work and help recovering addicts and alcoholics (at some of the most difficult times of their lives), while also maintaining my own recovery. I will have thirteen years clean this year.

I also published and released my autobiography called “When Tears Fall.” It was a major stepping stone in my life. For eighteen years I’ve been writing everything from poetry, short stories and plays. I was never in a finical position to get any of my work published, but I never gave up on my dreams to become a published author.
When Tears Fall is a self-published book that I am very proud of, it has gotten much attention the reviews I’ve received from my readers are all rewarding, humbling and sometimes overwhelming.

I am now in a position to publish my second book called “DOPE a Novel by Verne Johnson.” It’s about the life of a young man growing up in an upper middle class family, whose life will be completely taking over by a heroin addiction.

By the time, When Tears Fall hit the World Wide Web I started receiving calls, emails and text messages. People wanted me to come to their facilities and centers to speak and tell my story.  At the time I hadn’t done many public speaking, just in front of my clients on the job. I knew it was not that different it were just more people.

I talked to my wife about it she told me that I would do a great job as a speaker. She said I had a way of drawing people into my pain, sadness, joy, and laughter. I took my wife’s advice, called my designer and the rest history. For the entire year, ten of the twelve months were booked for facilities and centers such as: Rockford Public Library, Rockford Youthbuild, DHS Office in Rockford IL, Rocecrance 1st annual Retreat, National Gang Crime Research Center, BNNS Radio, Church of God in Christ in Elgin IL, Winnebago County Jail, Illinois Youth Center in St Charles, IL, Flinn Middle School, 13 WREX just to name a few.

My beloved wife also works as an addiction counselor at Rosecrance. In June 2010 she received her Master degree in community counseling from National Louis University in Chicago, IL.

We then both developed an educational curriculum and two clinical counseling programs for recovery addicts, alcoholics, and men coming out of the penal system. We are looking to start a learning center in the city of Rockford which incorporates group work, education, and spiritual guidance for individuals who are new in recovery, as well as individuals who need extra support. I am a father, husband, published author, life motivational speaker, and substance abuse counselor who loves life with my family and friends.

New Life Learning Center will be coming soon to Rockford. It will be an educational center to help individual with continue short and long-term support. Please view my book trailer at www.kickstarter.com type in Dope A Novel by Verne Johnson.

That ends this section on Adolescent Addiction, visit our home page.


and Finally Remember:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8






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