Mental illness and Drug Abuse in Teens

Health teens playing in fall leaves. Social interactions can help prevent teenage drug addiction.Teens who experience depression, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses are likely to fall prey to substance abuse and teenage drug addiction. This is called “comorbidity,” which develops when two or more mental illnesses develop. To cope, some teens turn to drug use, which only worsens their conditions. As the drug of choice overtakes other priorities, they find it much more difficult to resist impulses and find real solutions to their problems.

Mental Illness and Addiction Equals Comorbidity

As these teens realize they have something wrong with them, they may begin self-medicating with drugs in an attempt to feel more normal. As time goes on, they become dependent on their drugs, and it becomes an addiction. Teen drug rehab can help them address their co-occurring issues.

The Root Causes of Teenage Drug Addiction

Other factors, such as genetic components, may also make teens more likely to develop a substance addiction and a mental illness, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. That is, if a parent or close relative has either condition, the teen is more likely to develop one or both issues.

Environmental factors, such as abuse or exposure to high levels of stress, make it more likely that the teen is at a higher risk of developing an addiction and/or a mental illness, as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). If drugs are readily available in the home environment, this likelihood shoots even higher.

Commonly Abused Drugs

Young adults are the most common abuser of prescription and over-the-counter medications, according to the NIDA. As of 2012, these classes of drugs were the most commonly misused by high school seniors. When teens were asked how they got the prescription medications, they said they had either bought them or had them given to them by a friend or relative.

Teens are also likely to misuse marijuana, take part in episodes of heavy drinking and smoke cigarettes, activities possibly detrimental to physical and mental health.

The Importance of Interventions

Because teens are ashamed to admit they may have a mental illness, it is often up to their parents and doctors to intervene when they see their child using drugs so they can get the help they need. In drug rehab facilities, teenagers and their families can recover from the damage of drug addictions. Addiction treatment specialists work to treat both the original disease and the negative coping mechanisms so common for teenagers.

James Jones

James has a passion for writing. He applies his skills by writing for Sovereign Health Group. James also works in the entertainment industry as a model.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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  1. Hans de Rycke

    Many of those with ‘mental problems’ are commonly found instead to have food allergies, toxins in their systems, medical problems, and a host of other non-psychiatric situations. Dr. Lita Lee, author of The Enzyme Cure, said, “I have never believed that people ‘just go nuts.’ I have always believed that abnormal brain chemistry leading to mental problems is a direct result of abnormal body chemistry, poor nutrition and hormonal imbalances. ”
    The physical sources of mental symptoms fall into four general categories: medical, toxins, allergies, and nutrition. Too much caffeine can cause anxiety or too many sweets can give you the “sugar blues.” And many women have have endured mental disturbances as a result of hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.
    Psychiatrists, who are medical doctors, do include medical and toxic causes of psychiatric symptoms when evaluating someone for mental illness, but allergy testing has not been incorporated into that regime and doctors and patients/consumers are seemingly attracted to medication as first line treatment for anxiety, depression and other symptoms.
    Fight or flight responses are responsible for many of the symptoms of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, restlessness, sleeping disorders, anger, irritability, bipolar (activation of the sympathetic nervous system through the release of norempinephrine followed by the activation of the parasympathetic systems activation of the ‘rest and digest’ response through the activation of the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.) and social withdrawal as in ADD/ADHD. Depression, Alzheimers, dementia, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia are different labels (diagnosis) but often have the same origin (cause).
    In testing patients classified as “schizophrenic,” Dr. William Philpott found that 92% reacted to one or more substances as follows: · Wheat – 64% · Mature corn – 51% · Pasteurized whole cow milk – 50% · Tobacco – 75% with 10% becoming grossly psychotic, with delusions, hallucinations, and, especially, paranoia · Hydrocarbons – 30%.
    A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology have established a link between Parkinson’s and the consumption of dairy.
    Korsakoff’s syndrome seems to be related to potato allergies. The undigested potato ferments in the gut producing ethyl alcohol. This leads to brain damage, particularly in the young.
    The ecology-minded practitioners like myself have found that a huge spectrum of mental and emotional symptoms can be triggered by allergies, including agitation, anxiety, compulsions, lack of concentration, brain fag, confusion, weepiness, delirium, delusion, depression, disorientation, drowsiness, epilepsy (Rolandic), hallucinations, hyperactivity, hyper-arousal episodes (i.e. palpitations, sweating, trembling), hypersensitivity, hysteria, impatience, insomnia, irritability, jumpiness, lethargy, mania, mental slowness, mental fogginess, nightmares, panic, paranoia, psychoses, rage, restlessness, and tension-fatigue syndrome.
    Dr. Randolph also states that depression, especially when associated with other symptoms of allergy, may very well be due to food allergy.
    I also like to point out that mental health issues are not caused by a lack of pharmaceuticals and therefor prescription of dangerous, allergenic and often addictive drugs to suppress symptoms is unscientific.

    • Donna

      Thank you for addressing this as an issue. My daughter is bipolar and I am looking into vitamin therapy as opposed to medication, as I know that her eating and sleeping habits have a direct effect on her mania.

      • Hans de Rycke

        Hi Donna.

        Thank you for your email. Sorry to hear about your daughter. Here is an article I wrote a long time ago about bi-polar, causes and solutions. I hope it will be of some benefit. There is a lot to read and absorb but I feel dairy and ALL dairy containing foods are the main culprit.

        Anything else I can do to be of assistance please let me know.

        Bipolar Disorder

        First of all, Bipolar is NOT a disease, it is a symptom.

        The name means hitting both poles, high and low, alternatively, and I like to explain a bit about this. When you are in a normal state, and you consume something you are allergic to the brain activates the immune system, instead of the digestive system. The brain thinks (rightly so) that you are being attacked and activates the fight or flight response situated in the limbic brain.

        In this activation there are a series of sympathetic & other reactions in the body to face the danger in a concerted way. first of all to the Voluntary Nervous System. This system directs our skeletal muscular system to contract, (often causing back problems if the allergen is consumed often), small blood vessels to dilate, heartbeat to increase, throat muscles and nostrils to open wider, pupils to dilate and eyes to become more alert, sugars to be released from the liver to give us extra energy for the fight (or flight), bowels and bladder to empty making the body as light as possible to run faster if necessary, hairs stand on end to make us appear larger to scare off a potential threat.

        The brain also triggers the release of various hormones in the body like adrenaline, noradrenalin, glucocorticoids etc. This gives us a high.

        We feel like we can conquer the world, become reckless and over confident, talk louder, become bullies, just to impress a possible assailant. This is indeed what bullying is all about. Trying to overcome a feeling of inadequacy and attempting to impress whatever is perceived to be a threat.

        The brain shuts down its primary calming mechanism to force you to remain alert & ready to face the threat. This high lasts until the autonomic Nervous System gets activated. This part of our nervous system controls all the involuntary actions of our body. This system has two subdivisions. The Sympathetic Nervous System and the Para-sympathetic Nervous System , which are like the fire alarm and the calming down mechanism of the body respectively.

        The Para-sympathetic Nervous System calms, relaxes & slows down the body. When the Sympathetic Nervous System is activated, then for obvious reasons the Para-sympathetic Nervous System is inhibited simultaneously. When the brain considers the danger past (after 4 to 6 hours) it deactivates the Sympathetic Nervous System, and activates the Para-sympathetic Nervous System, the calming down mechanism of the body. This is what gets us the low, which lasts until we consume the allergen again, and of we go on the roller coaster. These reactions are an enormous stress on the immune system and use up lots of fuel, in particular, Zinc.

        Zinc is the essential trace mineral that is a component of over 200 enzymes, and functions as part of more enzymatic reactions than any other mineral. All glands in the brain need this element for proper function. A lack of zinc can lead to brain malfunctions like Alzheimer, Parkinson’s disease, Psychiatric illness, Dementia. Epilepsy, Schizophrenia and Bipolar disease. This list is by no means complete.

        In one study, in which elderly patients with Alzheimer’s were given 27 milligrams of Zinc daily, improvements in memory, understanding, communication and social contact were incredible. Regrettably, the study did not go into the effect of higher doses.

        The form of zinc used should be one that is easily absorbed such as zinc citrate, gluconade, picolinate, acetate or monomethionine. The supplementation must take place for at least 12 weeks usually in order to achieve good results and the doses should be 30 to 45 milligrams daily.

        In order to stop the roller coaster and get off we need to avoid all allergens. The most allergenic foods are, in order of importance to avoid; Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, potato, food colouring, MSG. The most important one to totally avoid is milk and associated products like cheese, ice cream and such. It necessitates the checking of labels to see if the allergen is in the product.

        It is important to realize that, if an allergen is consumed together with zinc, it causes a malabsorption syndrome.

        Avoiding dairy products is not as easy as it sounds. Dairy products are addictive. In an allergic response, adrenaline will be released to provide energy to fight the perceived pathogen and this release of adrenaline could make one feel good until the adrenaline rush is over. But eventually the immune system becomes depleted, and it is this depletion that leads to disease.
        Hans de Rycke, Fr.R.C. App. Kin. Clin.Kin. T.F.H.

        Zinc: Immune System, Pregnancy, Alzheimer’s and Acne

        Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is a component of over 200 enzymes, and functions as part of more enzymatic reactions than any other mineral. Zinc is readily absorbed in the upper small intestine. The body only absorbs the amount that it needs and discards the rest through the feces. However, zinc is stored in the liver, pancreas, kidney, bones, and voluntary muscles, parts of the eyes, glands, sperm, skin, hair, and fingernails (1). However, because the small intestine only absorbs what is needed at the time, it is important that zinc be constantly replaced.

        Zinc is probably most famous for being an immune system booster. When zinc levels decrease, the number of T cells decreases, thymic hormone levels decrease, and many white blood cell functions cease. Both Zinc and Vitamin C have antiviral activity, especially against several of the viruses that cause the common cold (2).

        Because Zinc is required for proper cell division, it is essential that pregnant women make sure they are getting enough zinc. Low zinc levels are associated with premature birth, low birth weight, growth retardation, and preeclampsia. One important study showed that women who supplemented their diets with 25 milligrams of zinc per day during pregnancy had babies with greater body weight and head circumference (3).

        Zinc is the most important trace element involved in male sexual function. A reduced zinc intake can produce reduced Testosterone levels. Male hormone metabolism, sperm formation, and sperm motility are all associated with appropriate levels of zinc (4).

        Acne, the teenager’s nightmare, seems to respond well to zinc supplementation. Studies done on zinc and acne show that zinc yields results similar to tetracycline. The form of zinc used should be one that is easily absorbed, such as zinc citrate, gluconate, picolinate, acetate, or monomethionine. The supplementation usually must take place for at least 12 weeks in order to achieve good results, and the dosage should be 30 to 45 milligrams daily (5).

        Alzheimer’s disease may also respond to zinc supplementation. In one study in which elderly patients with Alzheimer’s were given 27 milligrams of zinc daily, improvements in memory, understanding, communication, and social contact were incredible (6). Zinc is also important in healing wounds and burns, and can also help diabetics because of its regulatory effect of insulin. Zinc helps to prolong insulin’s effect on blood sugar (9).

        Conditions associated with Zinc deficiency: Frequent and/or severe infections. Sleep and behavioral disturbances, Delayed wound healing. Psychiatric Illness. Inflammatory bowel disease. Impaired glucose tolerance. Malabsorption syndromes.Reduced appetite. Anorexia.Growth retardation.Loss of sense of smell or taste.Delayed sexual maturation.Night blindness.Impotence, infertility. All dermatological disorders.Abnormal menstruation. Dandruff and hair loss.Alcohol and drug abuse.Connective tissue disease.Diuretic usage.Rheumatoid arthritis (7).

        Nutritional Sources for Zinc: Zinc is found in the highest concentration in Oysters. It is also found in relatively high concentrations in other shellfish, fish, and red meat. However, it is very susceptible to destruction during cooking. Good concentrations are found in whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds; however, many of these foods contain phytic acid which binds to the zinc and makes it unabsorbable. Non-fermented soy foods, wheat, corn, legumes, and brown rice all contain significant amounts of phytic acid.

        So the best bet would be to take a zinc supplement at a time of day when none of this food is going to be consumed. Perhaps take it when you eat your fruit. Nuts like pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts seem to be ok, and green peas also have 1.6 milligrams of zinc per 3.5 oz serving (8). The RDA for zinc is 25 milligrams daily; however, the studies mentioned above indicate that more can be taken without problems. Perhaps 50 to 75 milligrams a day would be more realistic since there are so many zinc antagonists in the diet.

        (1) Dunne, Lavon J. (1990). Nutrition Almanac, 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, p. 91 .
        (2) Murray, Michael T. (1996). The Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, p. 186.
        (3) Goldenber, R.L., et al. (1995). The effect of zinc supplementation on pregnancy outcome. JAMA, 274, 463-468.
        (4) Personal Health Lifestyles, Inc. (2000). “Zinc.” Healing With Nutrition. Available Online: [].
        (5) Murray, as in (2) above, p. 187.
        (6) Constantinidis, J. (1992). Treatment 0f Alzheimer’s disease by zinc compounds. Drug Develop Res, 27, 1-14.
        (7) Murray, as in (2) above, p. 182.
        (8) Murray, as in (2) above, p. 181.
        (9) Dunne, as in (1) above, p. 92.


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