Saturday, December 16th, 2017

Why do children use drugs and alcohol?

Posted: Friday, July 17, 2015

There are several reasons why teens use alcohol or drugs. It’s important that everyone, especially parents, understand these reasons:

Other People — teenagers see lots of people using various substances. They see their parents and other adults drinking alcohol, smoking, and sometimes, abusing other substances. Sometimes friends urge one another to try a drink or smoke something, but it’s just as common for teens to start using a substance because it’s readily available and they see friends enjoying it. In their minds, they see drug use as a part of the normal teenage experience.

Escape and Self-Medication — when teens are unhappy and can’t find a healthy outlet for their frustration or a trusted confidant, they may turn to chemicals for comfort. Depending on what substance they’re using, they may feel blissfully oblivious, wonderfully happy, or energized and confident.

Boredom — teens who can’t tolerate being alone, have trouble keeping themselves occupied, or crave excitement are prime candidates for substance abuse. Not only do alcohol and marijuana give them something to do, but those substances help fill the internal void they feel.

Rebellion — different rebellious teens choose different substances to use based on their personalities. Alcohol is the drug of choice for the angry teenager because it frees him to behave aggressively. Methamphetamine, or meth, also encourage aggressive, violent behavior, and can be far more dangerous and potent than alcohol. Marijuana, on the other hand, often seems to reduce aggression and is more of an avoidance drug. LSD and hallucinogens are also escape drugs, often used by young people who feel misunderstood and may long to escape to a more idealistic, kind world. Smoking cigarettes can be a form of rebellion to flaunt their independence and make their parents angry.

Instant Gratification — drugs and alcohol work quickly. The initial effects feel really good. Teenagers turn to drug use because they see it as a shortcut to happiness.

Lack of Confidence — many shy teenagers who lack confidence report that they’ll do things under the influence of alcohol or drugs that they might not normally do. You have the courage to dance if you’re a bad dancer, or sing at the top of your lungs even if you have a terrible voice. Alcohol and other drugs also alleviate social anxiety by having something in common with the other people around you.

Popular Media — forty-seven percent of teens agreed that movies and TV shows make drugs seem like an okay thing to do, according to a 2011 study.

Misinformation — perhaps the most avoidable cause of substance abuse is inaccurate information about drugs and alcohol. Nearly every teenager has friends who claim to be experts on various substances, and they’re happy to assure your teen that the risks are minimal.

Understanding the reasons for teenage alcohol and drug use allows parents to take preventative action. Educate your teenager about alcohol and drugs, so they understand the harms these substances can cause. For more information, please visit us on Facebook at Local Anti-Drug Coalition Efforts - LACE.