Top 5 Reasons Teens Use Alcohol and Drugs
There is not just one reason anyone uses alcohol or drugs, including teenagers. However, there are some specific issues that can influence teens to use alcohol and drugs. Awareness of these potential influences can help both teens and their parents to understand, discuss, and avoid the dangers of alcohol and drug use.
Seeing Other People Using Alcohol and Drugs
Exposure to alcohol and drugs from others is one of the main influences of teens using. They see their parents and other adults drinking or using other substances, and they see other teens using at parties and social gatherings. Teenagers are social by nature and want to feel included in activities with other teens, so they view alcohol and drug use as normal teenage activities. Availability is part of what makes it easy for someone to begin using, it is there and offered and they view it as fun.
Teens are also highly susceptible to peer influences and pressure. Those with a lack of confidence are even more susceptible. They want to feel included, and alcohol or substance use gives them a false confidence, loosening their inhibitions and social anxiety. Suddenly, they feel as if they are a part of the social scene and have the false courage to do things they couldn’t when sober, such as dance, talk to others, and try new things.
Media Makes it Appear Fun and Socially Expected
From movies to TV shows to music, there is alcohol and drug use in a large percent of them. Most teens who watch those movies or shows or listen to that music believe that the use of alcohol and drugs is fun and fashionable. Social media also takes their exposure to a much higher level. All day, every day they are exposed to famous people and average teenagers engaging in drug and alcohol use in what appears to them as fun videos on TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites. These posts, movies, shows, and music all glamorize illicit behavior that includes drugs and alcohol, so teens think it is appropriate to mimic that behavior.
A Means of Escape
The teen years are a very emotional time, and the rates of teen depression and anxiety are climbing. Many will turn to drugs and alcohol to make them feel better and escape their negative feelings. They may take prescription medications to help them focus and may abuse those drugs by taking more than prescribed. Unhappiness and frustration can drive them to take any chemicals to find escape, whether it is illegal drugs, alcohol, or pain medications and tranquilizers they find in the home, anything to help them cope with their academic, social, or emotional stress.
Teens who are not active in sports, clubs, or other extracurricular activities are prime candidates for drug or alcohol use. They crave excitement and social relationships, and alcohol and drugs can help them find both. Teens today have been programmed to desire instant gratification, and the initial feelings they get from alcohol and substance use make them feel good. They continue using drugs and alcohol to continue feeling good and fighting that boredom or unhappiness. A lack of parental supervision or support can open the door for teens to find risky behavior outlets for their boredom.
Teens who are engaging in rebellious behavior often turn to substance use. The substances they use are often telling of their personality or emotional issues. Teens who are angry often choose alcohol because it fuels their aggression and removes their inhibitions, so they don’t hold back. Teens who are attempting to escape often choose hallucinogens to feel disengaged and oblivious. Those wanting to prove their independence or make their parents angry often smoke cigarettes. Others want to just party and feel that high for awhile and will use prescription drugs. There are numerous feelings and reasons that teens turn to alcohol or substance use.
Communication with your teen and educating them about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are the best way to protect them. The people offering them drugs and alcohol will often lie to them about the risks involved, so ensuring that they know the dangers helps them to make better choices. If your teen is engaging in alcohol or drug use and you need professional help, Aspire Counseling Services is here. Call us today to learn about our teen treatment options for alcohol and substance use.
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