Adolescence is one of the most exciting and probably most memorable periods of any person’s life. There’s a reason we only experienced it once!
For better or worse, adolescence is the period where people fall in love, often for the first time, when they experience their first sense of being independent and begin to think that perhaps that there may be something more out there in the world for them.
It’s also a period of tremendous vulnerability. This is a time when young people take a lot of risks, and it’s also a stage where we see the emergence of mood disorders. Depression, anxiety, sometimes a vulnerability to eating disorders or trauma, these changes in emotional state can begin to surface during adolescence.
More severe problems such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can start to rear their heads at this age, and one of the challenging and most important tasks for us at the New York Center for Living is to try and understand if the substance use is a symptom of one of these other problems. A form of trying to self medicate. Is the substance use something that is covering up these other problems or is the substance use a symptom of another problem?
And so a crucial service we provide is to comprehensively understand where substances fit into the picture so we can help minimize the risk that substance use has in exacerbating and worsening those other issues. And most importantly, we help families to address those issues.
The earlier they are treated, the more comprehensive the approach to addressing their issues is, the better chance the young person has to heal.