Drug and alcohol abuse is more far more dangerous than kids realize. It can be both a symptom and a cause of suicidal thinking. Different people react to intoxicating substances in different ways. Some may take years to develop an addiction. In other cases, one exposure may be enough to push a user over the edge. Suicide is one of many possible results. There’s also a strong connection between substance abuse disorder and mental illness. A number of studies found that about half of those who experience one will also have problems with the other at some point in their lives.
Some drugs cause the brain to release chemicals that play a role in creating pleasurable sensations (for example, dopamine and serotonin). Other drugs block the brain from receiving certain signals, such as pain. Drugs also affect the brain’s neurotransmitters and can have serious negative effects in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for planning, decision-making, self-expression, and controlling social behavior111111
These effects are stronger and more problematic for teenagers because the adolescent brain is not yet fully developed. A teen’s brain continues to be easily molded and susceptible to change until sometime in the mid-twenties. As a result, early abuse of drugs and/or alcohol can put a permanent pause on a teenager’s brain development, causing the abuser to remain a mental adolescent for the rest of her life.