According to the most recent Monitoring the Future Survey, the relationship between depressive symptoms and binge drinking has decreased by 16% over the last 30 years. Initial surveys suggested that teens with high depressive symptoms were twice as likely to engage in binge drinking. However, the declining correlation between binge drinking and mental health is occurring during a time of unprecedented decreases in alcohol consumption among U.S. adolescents and significant increases in mental health problems. For many teens, underage drinking and depression continue to go hand in hand due to media portrayals.
Why Do Depressed Teens Drink More?
Despite an overall decline in substance use among teens over the past decade, alcohol remains the most commonly abused substance. As alcohol is easy to obtain and considered socially acceptable, it is a very popular means of self-medication for teen depression. As rates of teen mental health issues have skyrocketed, teens have expressed increased anxiety about trying riskier things and report spending less time socializing through unstructured activities with friends.
In previous generations, consequences of binge drinking were thought to include car accidents, legal problems, and behavioral problems. However, as the reasons teens turn to alcohol have shifted from risk-taking to self-medicating, the consequences of underage drinking and depression are typically described in terms of emotional issues or physical complaints.
Long-Term Effects of Self-Medication
- Teens who use drugs at least once a month are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than non-users
- Using drugs can increase depression and anxiety
- The percentage of depressed teens is equal to the percentage of depressed adults, but depressed teens are more likely than depressed adults to use drugs
- Depressed teens are also more likely than non-depressed teens to engage in other risky behaviors
How to Help Your Daughter Struggling with Depression and Substance Use
- Talk to her about her mental health. Teach her that it’s okay to be vulnerable and remind her that she doesn’t have to hide the way she feels. Encourage her to reach out for help.
- Recognize the warning signs of drug use and depression, including change in behavior and friends, loss of interest in daily activities, and withdrawing from the family.
- Don’t minimize her depression or substance use as normal teen moodiness and behavior.
- Get more involved: spend more time with her, get to know her friends, ask questions about how she spends her time; educate her about the long-term effects of drug use and set guidelines around substance use.
Solstice Can Help
Solstice Residential Treatment Center is a program for young girls ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and addictive behaviors. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy. Solstice Residential Treatment Center is dedicated to teaching young women how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions. We can help your family today!
Contact us at 866-278-3345 to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment programming for teens.