There is no single reason behind drug and substance use behavior among teenagers. But there are still some core problems explaining this misbehavior, as a parent, you need to understand the reasons why teens use drugs to understand the motivations behind them and proactively and timely talk with your child about the dangers of drug use – before it is too late.
Why do teens use drugs?
Pressure from friends
The National Institute of Drug Abuse surveyed in 2016 and found that 1.9 million teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 have used illegal drugs.
Most of these teenagers reported being “invited” to try it out by their peers. When they see all their friends trying and enjoying drugs, on their minds, drug use is part of a normal and rewarding teen experience.
Also, they want to be accepted and integrated. When their best friend offers them alcohol or drugs, a high percentage that they will agree. Besides, because of curiosity, they look to drugs or alcohol just to know how drunk or high is.
Lack of knowledge
A very common but most avoidable cause of substance use is inaccurate information about drugs. Nearly every teen has friends who claim to be “experts” on drugs and assure them that there will be no risks associated with drug use. So you need to proactively and quickly educate your child about drug use so that your child is promptly and clearly aware of the dangers of using drugs.
Looking forward to feeling “liberated”
During puberty and adulthood, psychological changes begin to appear. When teenagers are unhappy and cannot find a healthy outlet for their anger or frustration or find a trusted friend, they can turn to stimulants for relief. Depending on the type of substance they are taking, they may feel oblivious to the difficult reality and become wonderfully happy or energized and confident.
Adolescence with sudden physical changes can affect a child’s emotions, sometimes even causing depression, so when teenagers have a chance to do something to make them feel good, a high chance is that they choose to use substances. To deal with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders, teenagers often begin to use drugs or alcohol to alleviate these symptoms.
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Improve body performance
With academic pressures and extracurricular activities, teenagers can begin to use drugs or stimulants to improve academic achievement to meet the expectations of their parents and teachers or a coach. In addition to drugs, many children use illegal steroids to increase muscle mass and testosterone. This is the reason why the majority of children who take stimulants are mainly engaged in sports fields.
To feel mature
In an age that experiences many fluctuations, many teens want to feel and prove that they are mature. The idea of being an adult able to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or use illegal drugs is new and exciting to many teenagers.
The images above are also derived from music and movies. 45% of teenagers agree that music is also the reason why they use drugs, they think that any song related to marijuana or ecstasy sounds “cool”. And 45% of teenagers think that the expression of drugs on movies and TV shows makes them see drugs as not a bad thing to do.
So keep an eye on the media your son or daughter is using and talk openly with them about sensitive issues like these.
Prevention of drug use in adolescents
There is no 100% guarantee that your child will never use drugs. However, there are many ways you can minimize your child’s access to drugs:
- Develop a strong and trusting relationship with your child from an early age, encouraging positive behaviors in life such as healthy eating, exercising, playing sports, joining soft skill clubs.
- Be a role model for your children, such as not smoking and not using illegal drugs.
- Encourage your child to have more than one group of friends and you have to know who they are and what they are like.
- Practice your child in taking responsibility and developing good decision-making skills at a young age.
- Self-update information on addictive substances and stimulants to educate and openly discuss with their children the harms of drug use. Do not overdo or fabricate drug information.
- Download a content filtering tool to notify you if your child is looking for information about drugs, ecstasy, magic mushrooms, etc. for on-time conversation.
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