Before the spread of COVID-19, studies showed that an estimated 28.6% of teens abused substances. During the pandemic, that number rose to 30.4%. The pandemic has proven to be difficult on each of us, but it has proven especially difficult on adolescents, as their social, emotional and academic constants have been altered. In honor of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (May 7), we sat down with Wendy B., a licensed independent clinical social worker at our Weymouth office, to discuss substance use in teens and its effects on their mental health.
What do you think has led to the rise in teen substance abuse since the pandemic began?
There is an epidemic of anxiety and depression in adolescents, and much of it is because of social media. Kids think they’re being more social, but in reality, they’re actually just sitting on their beds completely alone while scrolling through the platforms. The pandemic has only made it worse. There’s this real isolation, and children aren’t communicating with other human beings. Bullying on social media has also become more prevalent. The anxiety and depression they’re feeling very well could contribute to the rise in substance use.
Substance abuse has become a …