13.4 Adolescent Health: Sleep, Diet, and Exercise

13.4.1 Sleep Health

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) (2016), adolescents need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. The most recent Sleep in America poll in 2006 indicated that adolescents between sixth and twelfth grade were not getting the recommended amount of sleep. For the older adolescents, only about one in ten (9%) get an optimal amount of sleep, and they are more likely to experience negative consequences the following day. These include feeling too tired or sleepy, being cranky or irritable, falling asleep in school, having a depressed mood, and drinking caffeinated beverages (NSF, 2016). Additionally, they are at risk for substance abuse, car crashes, poor academic performance, obesity, and a weakened immune system (Weintraub, 2016).

Most teenagers aren’t sleeping enough.^[[Image](https://www.cdc.gov/features/students-sleep/infographic.html) by the [CDC](https://www.cdc.gov/) is in the public domain]

Figure 13.15: Most teenagers aren’t sleeping enough.575

Why don’t adolescents get adequate sleep? In addition to known environmental and social factors, including work, homework, media, technology, and socializing, the adolescent brain is also a factor. As adolescents go through puberty, their circadian rhythms change and push back their sleep time until later in the evening (Weintraub, 2016). This biological change not only keeps adolescents awake at night, it makes it difficult for them to get up in the morning. When they are awake too early, their brains do not function optimally. Impairments are noted in attention, behavior, and academic achievement, while increases in tardiness and absenteeism are also demonstrated. Psychologists and other professionals have been advocating for later school times, and they have produced research demonstrating better student outcomes for later start times. More middle and high schools have changed their start times to better reflect the sleep research.576

If adolescents get too little sleep, their brain doesn’t function optimally.^[[Image](https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-green-printed-crew-neck-shirt-while-sleeping-296817/) by [John-Mark Smith](https://www.pexels.com/@jmark) on [Pexels](https://www.pexels.com/)]

Figure 13.16: If adolescents get too little sleep, their brain doesn’t function optimally.577

13.4.2 Eating: Healthy Habits = Healthy Lives

The Dietary Guidelines define late adolescence, as the period from ages fourteen to eighteen. After puberty, the rate of physical growth slows down. Girls stop growing taller around age sixteen, while boys continue to grow taller until ages eighteen to twenty. One of the psychological and emotional changes that take place during this life stage includes the desire for independence as adolescents develop individual identities apart from their families. As teenagers make more of their dietary decisions, parents, caregivers, and authority figures should guide them toward appropriate, nutritious choices.

Adolescent food choices may not be healthy.^[[Image](https://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/6351053972) by [Garry Knight](https://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/) is licensed under [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)]

Figure 13.17: Adolescent food choices may not be healthy.578

Some adolescents don’t have all the food necessary for proper development and may be food insecure. Most people have access to fresh water in all except the most extreme situations; the need for food is the most fundamental and important human need. More than 1 in 10 U.S. households contain people who live without enough nourishing food and this lack of proper nourishment has profound effects on their abilities to lead lives that will allow them to develop to their fullest potential. (Hunger Notes, n.d.).

When people are extremely hungry, their motivation to attain food completely changes their behavior. Hungry people become listless and apathetic to save energy and then become completely obsessed with food. Ancel Keys and his colleagues (Keys, Brožek, Henschel, Mickelsen, & Taylor, 1950) found that volunteers who were placed on severely reduced-calorie diets lost all interest in sex and social activities, becoming preoccupied with food. According to Maslow, meeting one’s basic needs is vital for proper growth and development.579

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s theory is based on a simple premise: human beings have needs that are hierarchically ranked. There are some needs that are basic to all human beings, and in their absence, nothing else matters. We are ruled by these needs until they are satisfied. After we satisfy our basic needs, they no longer serve as motivators and we can begin to satisfy higher-order needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.^[[Image](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs.svg) by [J. Finkelstein](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:J._Finkelstein) is licensed under [CC BY-SA 3.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)]

Figure 13.18: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.580

Maslow organized human needs into a pyramid that includes (from lowest-level to highest-level) physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs. According to Maslow, one must satisfy lower-level needs before addressing needs that occur higher in the pyramid. For example, if someone is starving, it is quite unlikely that he will spend a lot of time, or any time at all, wondering whether other people think he is a good person. Instead, all of his energies are geared toward finding something to eat.581

13.4.3 Weight Management

Forming good eating habits and engaging in fitness or exercise programs will help maintain a healthy weight and develop lifelong habits. Research says that the best way to control weight is: eat less (consume fewer calories) and exercise (burn more calories). To maintain a healthy weight, restricting your diet alone is difficult and can be substantially improved when it is accompanied by increased physical activity.

The energy (calorie) requirements for preteens differ according to gender, growth, and activity level. For ages nine to thirteen, girls should consume about 1,400 to 2,200 calories per day and boys should consume 1,600 to 2,600 calories per day. Physically active preteens who regularly participate in sports or exercise need to eat a greater number of calories to account for increased energy expenditures.582

People who exercise regularly, and in particular those who combine exercise with dieting, are less likely to be obese (Borer, 2008).Borer, K. T. (2008). Exercise not only improves our waistline, but also improves our overall mental health by lowering stress and improving feelings of well-being. Exercise also increases cardiovascular capacity, lowers blood pressure, and helps improve diabetes, joint flexibility, and muscle strength (American Heart Association, 1998).

For long lasting change, it’s important to plan healthy meals, limit snacking, and to schedule exercise into our daily lives.583 Diet Extremes - Obesity to Starvation

In this section, we’ll learn about the two ends of the spectrum (or extremes) of nutritional outcomes. Obesity

Children need adequate caloric intake for growth, and it is important not to impose highly restrictive diets. However, exceeding caloric requirements on a regular basis can lead to childhood obesity, which has become a major problem in North America. Nearly one of three US children and adolescents are overweight or obese. (Let’s Move. “Learn the Facts.” Accessed March 5, 2012. http://www.letsmove.gov/learn-facts/epidemic-childhood-obesity.)

Obesity can affect self-esteem, energy, and activity level.^[[Image](https://www.59mdw.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/407903/medical-centers-help-teens-with-weight-lost/) by the [59th Medical Wing](https://www.59mdw.af.mil/) is in the public domain

Figure 13.19: Obesity can affect self-esteem, energy, and activity level.^[Image by the 59th Medical Wing is in the public domain

There are a number of reasons behind the problem of obesity, including:

  • larger portion sizes

  • limited access to nutrient-rich foods

  • increased access to fast foods and vending machines

  • lack of breastfeeding support

  • declining physical education programs in schools

  • insufficient physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle

  • media messages encouraging the consumption of unhealthy foods

Obesity has a profound effect on self-esteem, energy, and activity level. Even more importantly, it is a major risk factor for a number of diseases later in life, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and certain cancers.

A percentile for body mass index (BMI) specific to age and sex is used to determine if a child is overweight or obese. If a child gains weight inappropriate to growth, parents and caregivers should limit energy-dense, nutrient-poor snack foods. In addition, it is extremely beneficial to increase a child’s physical activity and limit sedentary activities, such as watching television, playing video games, or surfing the Internet. Programs to address childhood obesity can include behavior modification, exercise counseling, psychological support or therapy, family counseling, and family meal-planning advice.584 Eating Disorders

Although eating disorders can occur in children and adults, they frequently appear during the teen years or young adulthood (National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 2016). Eating disorders affect both genders, although rates among women are 2 1⁄2 times greater than among men. Similar to women who have eating disorders, men also have a distorted sense of body image, including body dysmorphia or an extreme concern with becoming more muscular. (Hudson, Hiripi, Pope, & Kessler, 2007; Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011).

This image portrays anorexia. No matter how thin she is, she will see herself being heavier.^[[Image](https://www.flickr.com/photos/kairos_of_tyre/6317725969) by [Flebilis Roxa](https://www.flickr.com/photos/kairos_of_tyre/) is licensed under [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/)]

Figure 13.20: This image portrays anorexia. No matter how thin she is, she will see herself being heavier.585 Risk Factors for Eating Disorders

Researchers are finding that eating disorders are caused by a complex interaction of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors (NIMH, 2016). Eating disorders appear to run in families, and researchers are working to identify DNA variations that are linked to the increased risk of developing eating disorders. Researchers have also found differences in patterns of brain activity in women with eating disorders in comparison with healthy women.

The main criteria for the most common eating disorders: Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition (DSM-5)(American Psychiatric Association, 2013) and listed in Table 6.1.586

Table 13.2: DSM-5 Eating Disorders
Eating Disorder Description
Anorexia Nervosa Restriction of energy intake leading to a significantly low body weight
Anorexia Nervosa Intense fear of gaining weight
Anorexia Nervosa Disturbance in one’s self-evaluation regarding body weight
Bulimia Nervosa Recurrent episodes of binge eating
Bulimia Nervosa Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviors to prevent weight gain, including purging, laxatives, fasting or excessive exercise
Bulimia Nervosa Self-evaluation is unduly affected by body shape and weight
Binge-Eating Disorder Recurrent episodes of binge eating
Binge-Eating Disorder Marked distress regarding binge eating
Binge-Eating Disorder The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior Health Consequences of Eating Disorders

For those suffering from anorexia, health consequences include an abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart failure. Additionally, there is a reduction in bone density (osteoporosis), muscle loss and weakness, severe dehydration, fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness. Individuals with this disorder may die from complications associated with Anorexia nervosa, which has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

The binge and purging cycle of bulimia can affect the digestives system and lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances that can affect the heart and other major organs. Frequent vomiting can cause inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus, as well as tooth decay and staining from stomach acids. Lastly, binge eating disorder results in similar health risks to obesity, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, Type II diabetes, and gall bladder disease (National Eating Disorders Association, 2016). Eating Disorders Treatment

The foundations of treatment for eating disorders include adequate nutrition and discontinuing destructive behaviors, such as purging. Treatment plans are tailored to individual needs and include medical care, nutritional counseling, medications (such as antidepressants), and individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy (NIMH, 2016).587

Counseling is often a form of treatment for eating disorders.^[[Image](https://pxhere.com/en/photo/641914) is licensed under [CC0](https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)]

(#fig:fig-13_23)Counseling is often a form of treatment for eating disorders.588 Drug and Substance Abuse

Drug use and the possibility of abuse and addiction primarily manifest as physical problems. However, the effects of these substances are not only physical, but also have long lasting consequences on cognitive development as well as effect social emotional development in a variety of ways. In the next section we’ll learn about what drugs are, the different kinds of drugs, and what the effects are of each. Drug Experimentation

Drug use is, in part, the result of socialization. Adolescents may try drugs when their friends convince them to, and these decisions are based on social norms about the risks and benefits of various drugs. Despite the fact that young people have experimented with cigarettes, alcohol, and other dangerous drugs for many generations, it would be better if they did not. All recreational drug use is associated with at least some risks, and those who begin using drugs earlier are also more likely to use more dangerous drugs. They may develop an addiction or substance abuse problem later on.589

Social norms and peers influence adolescents’ drug use.^[[Image](https://www.flickr.com/photos/findrehabcenters/41626347984) by [Find Rehab Centers](https://www.flickr.com/photos/findrehabcenters/) is licensed under [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)]

(#fig:fig-13_24)Social norms and peers influence adolescents’ drug use.590 What Are Drugs?

A psychoactive drug is a chemical that changes our states of consciousness, and particularly our perceptions and moods. These drugs are commonly found in everyday foods and beverages, including chocolate, coffee, and soft drinks, as well as in alcohol and in over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin, Tylenol, and cold and cough medication. Psychoactive drugs are also frequently prescribed as sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and antianxiety medications, and they may be taken, illegally, for recreational purposes. The four primary classes of psychoactive drugs are stimulants, depressants, opioids, and hallucinogens. Stimulants

A stimulant is a psychoactive drug that operates by blocking the reuptake of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the synapses of the central nervous system (CNS). Because more of these neurotransmitters remain active in the brain, the result is an increase in the activity of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Effects of stimulants include increased heart and breathing rates, pupil dilation, and increases in blood sugar accompanied by decreases in appetite. For these reasons, stimulants are frequently used to help people stay awake and to control weight.

Used in moderation, some stimulants may increase alertness, but used in an irresponsible fashion they can quickly create dependency. A major problem is the “crash” that results when the drug loses its effectiveness and the activity of the neurotransmitters returns to normal. The withdrawal from stimulants can create profound depression and lead to an intense desire to repeat the high.

Table 13.3: Stimulants
Drug Dangers and Side Effects Psychological Dependence Physical Dependence Addiction Potential
Caffeine May create dependence Low Low Low
Nicotine Has major negative health effects if smoked or chewed High High High
Cocaine Decreased appetite, headache Low Low Moderate
Amphetamines Possible dependence, accompanied by severe “crash” with depression as drug effects wear off, particularly if smoked or injected Moderate Low Moderate to High
A Closer Look at the Danger of Adolescence Use of Nicotine

Nicotine is a psychoactive drug found in the nightshade family of plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide. Nicotine is the main cause for the dependence-forming properties of tobacco use, and tobacco use is a major health threat. Nicotine creates both psychological and physical addiction and it is one of the hardest addictions to break. Nicotine content in cigarettes has slowly increased over the years, making quitting smoking more and more difficult. Nicotine is also found in smokeless (chewing) tobacco and electronic cigarettes (vaping).

Electronic devices are now common ways to consume nicotine.^[[Image](https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html) by the [CDC](https://www.cdc.gov/) is in the public domain]

(#fig:fig-13_25)Electronic devices are now common ways to consume nicotine.591

Nicotine exposure can harm adolescent brain development by changing the way synapses form, which continues into the early to mid-20s. Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addictions to other drugs. E-cigarette aerosol and cigarettes contain chemicals that are harmful to the lungs and chewing tobacco.

In many cases, people are able to get past the physical dependence, allowing them to quit using nicotine containing products at least temporarily. In the long run, however, the psychological enjoyment of smoking may lead to relapse.592 Depressants

In contrast to stimulants, which work to increase neural activity, a depressant slows down consciousness. A depressant is a psychoactive drug that reduces the activity of the CNS. Depressants are widely used as prescription medicines to relieve pain, to lower heart rate and respiration, and as anticonvulsants. The outcome of depressant use (similar to the effects of sleep) is a reduction in the transmission of impulses from the lower brain to the cortex (Csaky & Barnes, 1984).

Table 13.4: Depressants
Drug Dangers and Side Effects Psychological Dependence Physical Dependence Addiction Potential
Alcohol Impaired judgment, loss of coordination, dizziness, nausea, and eventually a loss of consciousness Moderate Moderate Moderate
Barbiturates and benzo-diazepines Sluggishness, slowed speech, drowsiness, in severe cases, coma or death Moderate Moderate Moderate
Toxic inhalants Brain damage and death High High High
A Closer Look at the Danger of Adolescent Alcohol Use

Alcohol is the most commonly used of the depressants and is a colorless liquid, produced by the fermentation of sugar or starch that is the intoxicating agent in fermented drinks. Alcohol is the oldest and most widely used drug of abuse in the world. In low to moderate doses, alcohol first acts to remove social inhibitions by slowing activity in the sympathetic nervous system. In higher doses, alcohol acts on the cerebellum to interfere with coordination and balance, producing the staggering gait of drunkenness. At high blood levels, further CNS depression leads to dizziness, nausea, and eventually a loss of consciousness. High enough blood levels such as those produced by “guzzling” large amounts of hard liquor at parties can be fatal. Alcohol is not a “safe” drug by any means.593

Short-Term Health Risks

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These are most often the result of binge drinking (drinking 4-5 drinks during a single occasion) and include the following:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes (1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had some alcohol in their system in 2010), falls, drownings, and burns.

  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.

  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.

  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.

Long-Term Health Risks

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.

  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.

  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.

  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.

  • Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.

  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism.594

Adolescent alcohol use poses many health risks.^[[Image](https://www.scott.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/162484/medical-group-moulage-experts-help-teens-understand-dangers-of-drinking-and-dri/) by [Scott Air Force Base](https://www.scott.af.mil/) is in the public domain]

(#fig:fig-13_26)Adolescent alcohol use poses many health risks.595 Opioids

Opioids are chemicals that increase activity in opioid receptor neurons in the brain and in the digestive system, producing euphoria, analgesia, slower breathing, and constipation. Their chemical makeup is similar to the endorphins, the neurotransmitters that serve as the body’s “natural pain reducers.” Natural opioids are derived from the opium poppy, which is widespread in Eurasia, but they can also be created synthetically.

Table 13.5: Opioids
Drug Dangers and Side Effects Psychological Dependence Physical Dependence Addiction Potential
Opium Side effects include nausea, vomiting, tolerance, and addiction. Moderate Moderate Moderate
Morphine Restlessness, irritability, headache and body aches, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain High Moderate Moderate
Heroin All side effects of morphine but about twice as addictive as morphine High Moderate High Hallucinogens

The drugs that produce the most extreme alteration of consciousness are the hallucinogens, psychoactive drugs that alter sensation and perception and that may create hallucinations. The hallucinogens are frequently known as “psychedelics.” Drugs in this class include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD, or “Acid”), mescaline, and phencyclidine (PCP), as well as a number of natural plants including cannabis (marijuana), peyote, and psilocybin. The hallucinogens may produce striking changes in perception through one or more of the senses. The precise effects a user experiences are a function not only of the drug itself but also of the user’s preexisting mental state and expectations of the drug experience. In large part, the user tends to get out of the experience what he or she brings to it. The hallucinations that may be experienced when taking these drugs are strikingly different from everyday experience and frequently are more similar to dreams than to everyday consciousness.

Table 13.6: Hallucinogens
Drug Dangers and Side Effects Psychological Dependence Physical Dependence Addiction Potential
Marijuana Mild intoxication; enhanced perception Low Low Low
LSD, mescaline, PCP, and peyote Hallucinations; enhanced perception Low Low Low
A Closer Look at the Danger of Adolescent Marijuana Use596

Marijuana (cannabis) is the most widely used hallucinogen. Until it was banned in the United States under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1938, it was widely used for medical purposes. While medical and recreational marijuana is now legal in several American states, it is still banned under federal law, putting those states in conflict with the federal government. Marijuana also acts as a stimulant, producing giggling, laughing, and mild intoxication. It acts to enhance perception of sights, sounds, and smells, and may produce a sensation of time slowing down, and is much less likely to lead to antisocial acts than that other popular intoxicant, alcohol.

Using marijuana—can have harmful and long-lasting effects on an adolescent’s health and well-being.

Marijuana and the teen brain

Unlike adults, the teen brain is actively developing and often will not be fully developed until the mid 20s. Marijuana use during this period may harm the developing teen brain.

Negative effects include:

  • Difficulty thinking and problem solving.

  • Problems with memory and learning.

  • Impaired coordination.

  • Difficulty maintaining attention.

Marijuana is a commonly used hallucinogen.^[[Image](https://www.flickr.com/photos/cannabisculture/15582255270) by [Cannabis Culture](https://www.flickr.com/photos/cannabisculture/) is licensed under [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)]

(#fig:fig-13_27)Marijuana is a commonly used hallucinogen.597

Negative effects on school and social life

Marijuana use in adolescence or early adulthood can have a serious impact on an adolescent’s life.

  • Decline in school performance. Students who smoke marijuana may get lower grades and may be more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who do not use.

  • Increased risk of mental health issues. Marijuana use has been linked to a range of mental health problems in teens such as depression or anxiety. Psychosis has also been seen in teens at higher risk like those with a family history.

  • Impaired driving. Driving while impaired by any substance, including marijuana, is dangerous. Marijuana negatively affects a number of skills required for safe driving, such as reaction time, coordination, and concentration.

  • Potential for addiction. Research shows that about 1 in 6 teens who repeatedly use marijuana can become addicted, which means that they may make unsuccessful efforts to quit using marijuana or may give up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marijuana.

In some cases, the effects of psychoactive drugs mimic other naturally occurring states of consciousness. For instance, sleeping pills are prescribed to create drowsiness, and benzodiazepines are prescribed to create a state of relaxation. In other cases psychoactive drugs are taken for recreational purposes with the goal of creating states of consciousness that are pleasurable or that help us escape our normal consciousness.

The use of psychoactive drugs, and especially those that are used illegally, has the potential to create very negative side effects. This does not mean that all drugs are dangerous, but rather that all drugs can be dangerous, particularly if they are used regularly over long periods of time. Psychoactive drugs create negative effects not so much through their initial use but through the continued use, accompanied by increasing doses, that ultimately may lead to drug abuse. Substance Abuse

Many drugs create tolerance: an increase in the dose required to produce the same effect, which makes it necessary for the user to increase the dosage or the number of times per day that the drug is taken. As the use of the drug increases, the user may develop a dependence, defined as a need to use a drug or other substance regularly. Dependence can be psychological, in which the drug is desired and has become part of the everyday life of the user, but no serious physical effects result if the drug is not obtained; or physical, in which serious physical and mental effects appear when the drug is withdrawn. Cigarette smokers who try to quit, for example, experience physical withdrawal symptoms, such as becoming tired and irritable, as well as extreme psychological cravings to enjoy a cigarette in particular situations, such as after a meal or when they are with friends. Users may wish to stop using the drug, but when they reduce their dosage they experience withdrawal—negative experiences that accompany reducing or stopping drug use, including physical pain and other symptoms. When the user powerfully craves the drug and is driven to seek it out, over and over again, no matter what the physical, social, financial, and legal cost, we say that he or she has developed an addiction to the drug.

It is a common belief that addiction is an overwhelming, irresistibly powerful force, and that withdrawal from drugs is always an unbearably painful experience. But the reality is more complicated and in many cases less extreme. For one, even drugs that we do not generally think of as being addictive, such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, can be very difficult to quit using, at least for some people. On the other hand, drugs that are normally associated with addiction, including amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin, do not immediately create addiction in their users. Even for a highly addictive drug like cocaine, only about 15% of users become addicted (Robinson & Berridge, 2003; Wagner & Anthony, 2002). Furthermore, the rate of addiction is lower for those who are taking drugs for medical reasons than for those who are using drugs recreationally. Patients who have become physically dependent on morphine administered during the course of medical treatment for a painful injury or disease are able to be rapidly weaned off the drug afterward, without becoming addicts.598

People have used, and often abused, psychoactive drugs for thousands of years. Perhaps this should not be surprising, because many people find using drugs to be enjoyable. Even when we know the potential costs of using drugs, we may engage in them anyway because the pleasures of using the drugs are occurring right now, whereas the potential costs are abstract and occur in the future.599

In the next section we will be looking at various psychological disorders. Learning about and supporting others seeking help when they have a substance abuse problem is just as important as seeking help when one is experiencing negative physical and mental health problems.

  1. Image by the CDC is in the public domain↩︎

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