There are many reasons why teens abuse illegal or prescription drugs. Past studies used to point to “having fun” as the number-one reason teens used drugs, but more recent studies show that teens are using drugs to solve problems. This is important for parents to understand because most parents severely underestimate the impact of stress on their teens. By understanding what motivates your teen to use drugs, you can hopefully step in help them find better ways to cope with their problems.
Top Reasons Why Teens Abuse Substances
1) Stress: A recent study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America showed that 73 percent of teens report the number-one reason for using drugs is to deal with the pressures and stress of school. Surprisingly, only 7 percent of parents believe that teens might use drugs to cope with stress, showing parents severely underestimate the impact of stress on their teens’ decision to use drugs.
2) Social Acceptance and/or Low Self-Esteem: A 2007 PATS Teens study reported 65 percent of teens say they use drugs to “feel cool.” Teens’ self-worth depends on the approval of others, and their desire for social acceptance can drive them to engage in destructive behaviors, even if they know it could harm them. The same study found that 65 percent of teens use drugs to “feel better about themselves.” Teens who have low self-esteem are more likely to seek acceptance from the wrong crowd by using drugs.
3) Self-Medication: The teen years are rough, and many teens who are unhappy don’t know how to find a healthy outlet for their frustration. These pent up emotions can take an emotional toll and can even lead to depression or anxiety. A 2009 study reported an estimated 70 percent of teens suffer from undiagnosed clinical depression at some point in their life. Many teens are unaware that they have an underlying mental or mood disorder that is causing them to use illegal or prescription drugs to self-medicate and cope with their symptoms.
4) Misinformation: Studies show that teens are widely misinformed about the dangers of drugs. Did you know that 40 percent of teens don’t perceive any major risk with trying heroin once or twice? While abuse of serious drugs is steadily declining among teens, their intentional abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications remains a serious concern. Many teens, 41 percent to be exact, mistakenly believe that it’s safer to abuse a prescription drug than it is to use illegal drugs. Nearly 1 in 5 teens have already abused a prescription medication or prescription painkiller in order to get high or deal with stress.
5) Easy Access: One reason teens use drugs is simply because they’re easy to get. Nearly 50 percent of teens report that it’s easy for them to get marijuana; 17 percent say it’s easy to get meth; 14.4 percent say it’s easy to get heroin; and more than half of teens say that prescription drugs are easier to get than illegal drugs.
Teen Drug Abuse: Prevention and Help
Research consistently shows that kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs than kids who do not learn about the dangers of drugs at home. Unfortunately, only 32 percent of teens report that they are getting this vital message from their parents.
If you know a teen who is abusing drugs, don’t wait to intervene. The sooner your teen gets help for drug abuse, the more likely they’ll be able to avoid the long-lasting consequences. Fortunately, there are many different teen drug rehabs to choose from. The most effective teen drug rehab, however, may be a residential treatment program. Here your teen will have access to 24/7 supervision and care, detoxification, dual diagnosis treatment and a variety of holistic treatments based on their individual needs. Talk to a medical doctor about your teen’s symptoms and determine which type of drug abuse treatment is best for your teen.
Don’t let your child suffer at the hands of addiction any longer. Call Casa Palmera today and put your teen in the hands of trained, highly skilled professionals who will bring your child back to a healthy, happy life.