teen Alcohol and drug use

January 26, 2009
By Cameron Stark, Aurora, CO

These days, drugs are everywhere, and it may seem like everyone is doing them. Many teens are tempted by the excitement or escape that drugs seem to offer. However, learning the facts about drugs can help you see the risks of chasing this excitement or escape. Here is what you need to know.

Teens use alcohol and other drugs for many reasons. They may do it because they want to fit in with friends or certain groups. They may also take a drug or drink alcohol because they like the way it makes them feel. On the other hand, they may believe that it makes them more grown up. Teens tend to try new things and take risks, and they may take drugs or drink alcohol because it seems exciting. Teens may try a number of substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, household chemicals (inhalants), and prescription and over the counter medicines, and illegal drugs. Marijuana is the illegal drug that teens use most often. Many teens try alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, but using these substances is not safe or legal. Most teens do not start using drugs expecting to develop a substance abuse problem, and while most teens probably see their drug use as a casual way to have fun, there are negative effects that are a result of this use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs. The biggest consequence to casual drug use can be that it develops into a true addiction. Very few addicts recognize when they have crossed the line from casual use to addiction.

"Sense of Self" is a young adults' self-evaluation on their progress in three key developmental areas: identity formation, independence and peer relationships. Most studies show that teens with a high Sense of Self feel more positive about their own identity, growing independence and relationships with peers than do teens with a low Sense of Self. Specifically, high Sense of Self teens reported feeling smart, successful, responsible and confident and cite positive relationships with parents. In addition, significantly, the study revealed that:

High Sense of Self teens are more likely to avoid alcohol and drug use.

Low Sense of Self teens are more likely to use alcohol and "harder" drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine. Some teens believe drugs will help them think better, be more popular, stay more active, or become better athletes. Others are simply curious and figure one try will not hurt. Others want to fit in. A few use drugs to gain attention from their parents.

Many teens use drugs because they are depressed or think drugs will help them escape their problems. The truth is, drugs do not solve problems - they simply hide feelings and problems. When a drug wears off, the feelings and problems remain, or become worse. Drugs can ruin every aspect of a person's life. Most teens will see and be exposed to alcohol and drug use by their peers and maybe even by their friends while they are in school, they may face tremendous pressure to just try it. They will have to make the decision to try it or not by the values that have been taught to them. I think that a lot of teen alcohol and drug use could be eliminated if parents would take the time to do the following things.

Talk to your child early about what you expect in his or her behavior toward alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. If your teen thinks that you will allow substance use, he or she is more likely to try drugs or alcohol.
Keep your teen busy with meaningful activities, such as sports, church programs, or other groups.

Expect you are teen to follow the household rules. Set reasonable penalties for bad behavior, and consistently carry them out.
Keep talking with your teen. Praise your teen for even the little things he or she does well.
Know your child’s friends. Having friends who avoid cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs may be your teen’s best protection from substance abuse.

I also feel that the pressure for teens to drink and use drugs is enormous. The promotion of alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs by the media is a big problem. They portray alcohol and cigarette use as "cool." Ads portray alcohol use as a way to gain popularity, success, and sex appeal. Music and movies also portray cigarettes and other drugs as glamorous. Drug companies’ advertisements promote the use of prescription or nonprescription drugs with an implicit message that drugs improve your life. It is best to start talking to your teens about teen drug use before they have a problem, but if you think your teen is using drugs, it is important to talk to them right away. Teens need help to overcome their teen drug abuse

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This article has 1 comment.

on Mar. 13 2009 at 12:53 am
I think you did a terrific job writing this. I think you have

hit the nail on the head as far as having knowledge as to why teens may drink and use drugs. Great job.

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