Ever Asked Yourself “Why do Teens do Drugs?”

By
Kim Vytell
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Jefferey A. Berman MD, DFASAM
Last Updated
May 29, 2023

Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction

Table of Contents
  1. Why do Teens do Drugs?
  2. Risk Factors
  3. Preventative Factors
  4. There is Help For Your Teenager

Teenagehood, with its host of social pressures and the desire to test boundaries, is seeing teenage drug abuse become a serious problem.   Knowing the reasons behind teenage drug addiction can help you understand why teens use drugs, and create a better strategy to prevent the drug addiction from beginning in the first place. 

Avenues Recovery, pioneers in the field of addiction rehabilitation, have dealt with countless teenage patients. Join us as we explore the most common reasons for teenage drug addiction and answer the question “why do teens do drugs?” 

Why do Teens do Drugs? 

Teens do drugs for several reasons, including:

  1.  Stress: One of the biggest reasons for teenage drug abuse is to deal with stress and pressures at school, after-school jobs, extracurricular activities, and/or home.
  2. Low Self-Esteem: Teenagers with a lack of confidence are more likely to seek acceptance from the wrong crowd by using drugs.
  3. Boredom: If a teen doesn’t have enough activities going on, can’t tolerate being alone, or has difficulty keeping themselves engaged, they may turn to drugs for a little bit of excitement.
  4. Rebellion: Since many adults disagree with drug usage, teenagers may use drugs to rebel against their parents or teachers.
  5. Instant Gratification: Drugs work fast. As a result, teenagers may use drugs as a shortcut to happiness.
  6. Social Acceptance: Teens may use drugs to feel cool since drugs have become a regular part of the teenage social culture.
  7. Misinformation: Inaccurate information about drugs and their consequences is a common factor behind teenage drug addiction. 
  8. Independence: Teenagers want to feel grown up as they age into adulthood. Taking illegal substances offers them a thrill and may make them feel in control of their decisions.

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Risk Factors

In addition to the reasons noted above, there are also circumstantial reasons and specific happenings that can cause a teen to use drugs for the first time or abuse drugs they are already using.

Although there is no perfect answer as to why do teens use drugs, these risk factors include but are not limited to:

  • Lenient parenting
  • Experiencing parents/older siblings/ other family members use drugs
  • Falling victim to bullying or cyberbullying [1]
  • Being in a social group/school/community with a strong tolerance for drinking, smoking or drug use among teens
  • Having little or zero education on the risks involved in taking illegal substances
  • Suffering from low self-esteem
  • Failing in school socially or academically
  • Belonging to a school with few rules or unenforced rules on drug abuse

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Preventative Factors

We now know that teenagers do drugs for all kinds of reasons. While there are reasons beyond our control, it’s important to remember how impressionable adults are on teenagers and how often teens mimic adult behaviors. There are measures parents and caregivers can take to try to prevent their teens from abusing drugs. 

These preventative factors include but are not limited to:

  • Strengthening the relationship between parent/caregivers and their teens
  • Educating teens about the dangers of drug abuse [2]
  • Knowing your teen’s social environments and whereabouts
  • Being in a social group/school/community with little tolerance for drinking, smoking or drug use among teens
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Taking an active role in athletics, drama, art or any other community activity
  • Belonging to a school with strong drug education and a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use

There is Help For Your Teenager

Learning that your teen or a teen you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol can be devastating. Yet, there is hope. Using drugs does not automatically make one an addict, and being an addict is not a life sentence.

If you’re struggling with a teen using drugs, Avenues Recovery is here to offer you support and guidance. You can contact us 24/7 to hear more about the many services we offer.

Sources

[1] www.unicef.org

[2] nida.nih.gov

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