Reasons Why Teenagers Use Drugs
Many factors motivate teens into using drugs. Such factors include peer pressure, boredom, stress, and popular culture among others. The problem is that teenage drug use brings many problems. This is why it is important for teens to avoid drug use. Parents and caregivers should also help teenagers avoid drugs. Some of this reasons include;
- Peer pressure
Most teenagers use drugs because of peer pressure. Findings from various studies show that peer pressure and drug abuse are linked. Peer pressure sways teens into doing things that they may not normally do. Social scientists use social learning theory to explain how we learn from each other. For example, when we hang out with drunkards, we gradually learn this behavior. The same case happens with teenagers. When they are surrounded by friends who use drugs, they learn the behavior.
The social circles of teenagers have a strong uniformity. This uniformity leads to a greater peer pressure effect. So, if a teen is in a group that abuses drugs, chances of using the drugs are high. The effect is stronger when a teenager wants to fit in or be accepted by friends.
Boredom may drive teenagers into using drugs. Some teens cannot tolerate being alone. They will engage in any activity to avoid boredom. One way to overcome the boredom is using drugs. Maury is 28 years old fighting drug addiction. We wanted to know how he got into drugs. He said he first used drugs at the age of 14. ‘I remember it was during holidays. I was bored and decided to join a group of kids in the neighborhood. We played football for a while. After the game, two kids started smoking. I wanted to know how it felt to smoke. That marked my first day into drugs!’ Maury explained. Luckily Maury is almost recovering from addiction. This case shows how boredom can drive teens into drug abuse.
- Popular culture
Most of the music that teenagers listen to and watch make drugs seem cool. If something seems cool then, what happens next is obvious. Teenagers will surely try it.
- Low self-esteem
Teenagers with low self-esteem may use drugs to do some things. For example, some shy teens will use alcohol to approach people they are attracted to. Others will use drugs to dance or sing.
- To experiment
Teenagers are curious. Some will use drugs just for experimentation.
Teenage comes with lots of pressure. This is why it is common to have teen showing symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. To cope with these symptoms, some teens will start using drugs.
Why Should You Not Use Drugs?
Teenagers experience lots of problems when they use drugs. In the following section, we discuss several consequences of teen drug abuse.
- Poor health
Teenage drug abuse is linked to several mental health problems. These include withdrawal, depression, and personality disorders, and conduct problems. Notably, drug-abusing teens are also at a risk of suicidal thoughts.
Drug use interferes with brain development. During adolescence, brain is usually developing. Actually, brain continues to develop up to the age of 25. Drug abuse interferes with this development. It also prevents proper brain growth and development.
Teen drug use also affects physical health. Teens who use drugs are at a risk of injuries, diseases, and physical disabilities. Also, teens involved in drug use are at a higher risk of death through accidents, and suicide.
Then, there are long-term health effects of teenage drug use. These include;
- Heart problems
- Liver damage
- Lung problems
- Problems with the law
There is a clear link between teenager drug use and breaking of law. Drug use is associated with criminal behavior. Such behaviors include sexual abuse, physical violence, murder, and income-generating crimes. As well, these behaviors cause fear in community. This creates the demand for criminal justice services. Some teens end up in juvenile.
- Social problems
Teens using drugs are likely to be stigmatized by their friends. Also, teens who use drugs have problems with family members. Some teens have become homeless because of the disrupted relationship with their families.
- Poor performance
Teens who use drugs are more likely to get poor grades. This is because; firstly, they are more likely to skip school. Secondly, concentration in class is a problem. Thirdly, drug use reduces commitment to education.
How Can Teenagers Avoid Drugs?
Teenagers can use various strategies to reduce the risk of drug abuse. These include;
- Firstly, create a strong bond with caregiver for emotional support.
- Secondly, talk about your problems with a trusted adult.
- Thirdly, be active in healthy activities. For example, join school games, volunteer programs, or faith-based activities,
- Fourthly, spend time with friends who don’t use drugs.
- Fifthly, learn about negative effects of drug use.
How Can Teenagers Be Helped Avoid Drug Use?
Adults can help teens to avoid drug abuse. We can do this by;
- Firstly, talk to teenagers about drugs. Talk about the consequences of drug use. This should not be a lecture. Instead, have a discussion with the teen
- Secondly, encourage teenagers to listen and watch good songs. Songs that do not encourage drug use and violence.
- Thirdly, be good role models to our teens. This involves avoiding drug use.
- Fourthly, support teens who are already into drugs by seeking professional help.