Top Reasons Teens Turn to Drugs and Alcohol and What You Can Do to Help
As a parent, when you find out that your teen has been abusing drugs or alcohol, one question comes to mind…. why did this happen? While parents ultimately know that they can’t shelter their children from all the temptations in the world, it can still be mind blowing to find out about their teen’s negative behavior.
Truth be told, there is no single reason that teenagers decide to start using drugs and alcohol. Factors such as the environment they live in, peer pressure, and even how they were raised can have an effect on how and if a teen decides to use drugs or alcohol. Understanding the reasons for teenage alcohol and substance abuse can better equip you to talk to your teens about the risks, and getting them help when necessary.
- Other Influences – Teens who are constantly around others who use drugs and alcohol are more likely to try it out for themselves. This can be their friends, parents, or even other close relatives that they look up to. Other instances in which a teen might be influenced to use drugs or alcohol is if they’re in a social setting that welcomes it. Unchaperoned parties can persuade teens to bring alcohol and other substances along. When a group of teens begins abusing these substances, it makes it harder for your teen to resist.
- Media – According to a 2011 article from the John’s Hopkins Center, approximately 93 percent of movies teens commonly watch display alcohol use while 22 percent display drug usage. With those type of statistics it’s no wonder that many teens feel as if its cool to smoke and drink. From the movies and television shows, to the music they hear and even social media, drugs and alcohol use remain in the forefront of a teen’s mind.
- Mental Illness or Escape of Emotions – As you already know, teenage years are often the most trying. It is during this age that they are learning to identify themselves while trying to socially fit in with others. Often during this journey of self discovery, teens go on an emotional roller coaster.Teens often are unaware of how to resolve their emotions. When feeling sad, angry, depressed, or anxious, teenagers often want to find some level of escape from it all. In other instances, undiagnosed mental illness could cause teens to use drugs or alcohol as well. The National Alliance of Mental Illness points out that there are millions of teens who are either undiagnosed or lack the resources they need to get help.
- Boredom – We all do silly things when we’re bored, but there are instances in which the things we do can be destructive. If your teen has a lot of idle time on their hands, they might be more willing to experiment with the use of drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol mask their feelings of boredom and allow them a sense of belonging as it is a means for them to connect with other teens who drink and use drugs as well.
- Rebellion – The moment you have a kid you know there’s going to come points where they will rebel. However, during adolescence, this rebellion can often multiple to great lengths. Depending on their personality, your teen might rely on the use of substances to further fuel their need for rebellion. For instance, a teen who is often angry will often lean on alcohol as it gives them the “courage” they need to act recklessly. Whereas a teen who simply wants to fit in might opt for marijuana which helps to put them at ease and erase all their fears.
- Low Confidence – Teenagers who are otherwise very shy and introverted often have a hard time fitting in with the crowd. As such, they will use drugs and alcohol as a way to push beyond their comfort zone. Drugs and alcohol can often give shy kids the boost they need to do things that would make them appear interesting or cool in the eyes of their peers. Alcohol is not only beneficial in helping to break down barriers teens may have built up, but it also gets rid of social anxieties they may have had.
- Little to No Drug and Alcohol Education – Lastly, teenagers who are misinformed or have no idea of the various harms that drug and alcohol abuse can cause are more than likely to use. When teens get their information from an incorrect source – typically a friend, this could lead to serious issues.
How You Can Help
It can be very difficult to deal with the realization that your teen is using drugs or alcohol. However, the sooner you act on it, the sooner you can get them the help that they need. Depending on how much your teen uses drugs and/or alcohol you will need to do some of the following:
- Educate yourself on types of drugs teens use by reading from reputable sources. Tucsontransitionalliving.com provides information on drugs such as Molly, Spice, and prescription drugs, which are prevalent among teens today.
- Talk to your teen about the severity of drugs and alcohol
- Monitor the types of friends you allow them to hang with
- Ensure that social events are chaperoned accordingly
- Help your teen find a healthy outlet for their emotions
- Get the proper help if you believe your teen is mentally ill.
It’s certainly sad to see the increasing number of teens that have reported using drugs or alcohol. Dealing with this in your own home can also be quite difficult to manage. However, by knowing the signs of addiction, the common causes, and ways to get help, you are better prepared to help your teen get through it. If your teen’s use of drugs and alcohol has reached a level of addiction, getting professional help right away is by far the best solution for your child and your family as a whole.