Everyone knows the teenage years are full of challenges. Some of these challenges are easy to conquer. Some of the challenges are tougher and they’ll make us into the people we’ll become. And some of the challenges are overpowering. They overshadow any personal development and they seem to completely annihilate the teen’s self esteem. For many teens, these overpowering challenges may lead to issues with substance abuse and other risky behaviors.
Teens are tough – but they’re human and therefore stuff gets to them. By the time a teen goes into high school, they’re constantly faced with the pressures of life. Good grades are crucial. College is just around the corner. A social life is necessary. Plus, every teen is faced with the decision of what they want to be when they grow up. That’s right – every teen should know the profession they’ll be in for the rest of their lives. We expect them to have all of the answers by the time they turn 18 or 19. It’s no secret that teens have a heavy burden on their back. Also, at this age (by around 13) many teens begin to deal with mental health issues. The pressure from peers, parents, and academic advisors becomes too much and some teens decide to seek substances.
The Reasons Teens Start Using Drugs & Alcohol
The challenges teens face are unique. No two teens are exactly alike, just as no two adults are exactly alike. The things that matter to one teen might not matter to another. That said, there are some common issues among teens. Here they are:
- Peer Pressure – Peer pressure is difficult for anyone to manage, but teens have to deal with it on a daily basis. Peer pressure is when your peers and friends pressure you to do something that you don’t want to do. The most common thing to be peer pressured into is consuming drugs and alcohol. Teens want to fit in; they want to be accepted. Doing drugs or drinking alcohol makes them feel like they’re part of the “cool crowd” as though they’ve finally been accepted.
- Escaping – Just like with adults, drugs and alcohol are a way to escape everyday life for teenagers. If there are issues at home, escaping with drugs and alcohol sounds great. Escape through drugs and alcohol is not only common for teens, it’s also something that adults do.
- Self Medicating – Self medicating is taking drugs in order to mask the symptoms of mental illness. This is common with adults, teens and everyone in between. It’s one of the top reasons teens seek substances.
- Improving their Academics – Performance improvement is another big reason teens start taking substances. Certain drugs will help them perform better on tests or when doing book reports, at first. Soon the teen becomes tolerant to the drug and needs more and more in order to perform the way they once did. This is one of the fastest ways teens are exposed to the cycle of addiction.
- Experimentation – Taking drugs to see what they do is nothing new. Teens want to take drugs to seek what happens – it’s one of the top reasons teens seek drugs.
- Boredom – Perhaps the most overlooked reason teens take drugs is out of boredom. Teens get bored with their lives and look to substances to feel alive again. Boredom among teens is rampant. Cow tipping is an actual thing teens do out of boredom. It makes perfect sense that substance use would be another thing.
- To Feel Like an Adult – Why do kids vape and smoke cigarettes? Because that’s what adults do. Sometimes teens just want to look and feel like the adults in their lives, so they take substances. That’s why it’s always important to be a good role model to your child and never let them see you abusing substances.
In Conclusion: What Should Parents Do?
Parents should look out for the signs of addiction. It’s estimated that nearly 1.5 million teens are in need of treatment for a drug problem. These numbers grow each and every year. That means that parents need to be hypervigilant these days. If you think that your loved one is using or abusing drugs, don’t ignore the signs.
Here are the signs:
- Sudden tardiness
- Suddenly missing school
- A significant drop in grades
- A sudden loss of interest in things that they once enjoyed
- No longer interested in activities that once brought joy
- No longer interested in family time
- No longer interested in time with siblings
- A sudden difference in behavior and/or interests
- Legal consequences
- Sick more than they usually were