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Correlation Between Depression and Drug Use in Teens

05/06/2012

Michael W. Miller Cautions Parents About Correlation Between Depression and Drug Use in Teens

Depression and alcohol use are common challenges facing today’s teenagers, especially those who are attending high school. On their own, these are formidable challenges to overcome. A new study reveals that they may actually have a correlation between them. This research indicates that teenagers who experience the signs of depression are far likelier to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes than teenagers who do not. Michael W. Miller, a neuroscientist, praises the findings of this study–which mirror his own.

The previously cited study also considers the use of marijuana and harder drugs, which it has found teenagers who suffer from depression to be more likely to use as well. In an effort to explain this troubling trend, researchers have suggested that teenagers first feeling the signs of depression attempt to self-medicate their problems by turning to drugs and alcohol.

Michael W. Miller concurs with this suggestion. “This study is truly insightful. It provides fascinating data that supports the idea that teenagers actually self-medicate for the symptoms of depression,” comments Michael W. Miller. He has found that the data associated with this study correlates with data he collected during his own studies. “The data supports the ‘alcoholism generator hypothesis,’ which asserts that substance abuse by teenagers is sparked by fetal exposure to these substances. Basically, teenagers are primed to utilize these substances.”

These comments reference Michael W. Miller’s 2006 study, which suggests that fetal development can affect the likelihood that a teenager will participate in substance abuse. Evidently, the recent findings support the neuroscientist’s earlier results.

But the new study is focused not just on the relationship that exists between depression and substance abuse; the latest research takes a look at the role that drugs and alcohol play when used as self-medication resources. The study asserts that, “those individuals who had more depressive symptoms in ninth grade reported faster increases than their peers in smoking, marijuana, and hard drug use […] across the high school years.” The study takes into account the fact that these substances are all considered to have strong effects on mood. As a result, it is easy to see how teenagers might utilize drugs and alcohol in an effort to alleviate the symptoms of depression from which they suffer.

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