The Connection Between Teen Pregnancy And Substance Abuse

Drama seems to be the story of Amber's life, but after all of her legal problems, struggles with substance abuse and issues with her explosive temper, it looks like rehab will finally provide her with the help she so desperately needs. Once she learns to control her anger, work on her drug dependency and improve her mental health, she can focus on becoming a family again with Gary and Leah.

While Amber's concerns are unique to her, drug and alcohol use is not uncommon among teens. About two-thirds of high school freshmen report having tried alcohol at least once, 25 percent of all high school students say they drink heavily on occasion and nearly four in 10 high school students have tried marijuana.

Risky behavior, like drinking or using drugs, lowers your inhibitions and affects your judgment, increasing the chance of taking further risks. It should make sense, then, that teens who drink and/or use drugs are often more sexually active and more likely to take risks when having sex. Translation: They're more likely to go farther than they may have wanted and less likely to use contraception.

More than one-third of teens who have had sex say that they've gone farther sexually while under the influence of drugs or alcohol than they would have while sober. Many teen girls who were drunk when they first had sex wind up being too intoxicated to remember to use birth control correctly. Nearly a quarter of sexually active teens and young adults age 15-24 say they've had unprotected sex because they were under the influence. And when it comes to unplanned pregnancy, teens who have used marijuana are four times more likely to have been pregnant or gotten someone pregnant than teens who've never tried it.

Hopefully Amber can use her time in rehab to work on her personal issues so she can hit the reset button on her relationship with Gary and Leah. Focusing on getting clean and healthy needs to be her primary concern before she can get back to her other important responsibility: being a good mother.

--Written by Lauren Mann of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

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