Peer Pressure. It is one of the most common reasons a young teen will get started on drugs. When in high school, everyone is just trying to fit in. If you don't wear jeans and a flannel, you're considered an outsider and not cool. The desire to fit in can go as far as taking drugs or alcohol.
On February 28, 14 teenagers ages 11 to 14 in Woburn, Massachusetts overdosed on a muscle relaxant. That's right, not cocaine or crack, but a muscle relaxant. This incident (at a Boys and Girls Club dance) could have turned deadly if action wasn't taken as quickly as it was. The drugs were supposedly stolen from the front porch of an elderly person who was waiting for them to arrive in the mail. The questions remain: why did these kids steal and take so many pills? Many adults would say that they just didn't know what they were doing, but it goes deeper than that. The need to be cool, and peer pressure, contribute a great deal to drug and alcohol abuse. The way people act in society and adult behavior also contribute to what kids do and think.
How can teens combat peer pressure? The convenient way of just saying no just doesn't work. Sure, it sounds good to say no but in reality, a person may want to say no, but just can't. Walking away and making up a story are a few very good ideas.
The thing you want to get out of an encounter with drug user is your own safety. Safety is the major factor when dealing with any type of drink or alcoholic beverage. Parents and adults in communities must set a good example for the teenagers.
Hollywood must also help fight drugs. Having drugs on a TV program might improve ratings, but it gives America's children the wrong idea that drugs can bring glamour.
We all hope that the incident in Woburn is an isolated incident and taking others' prescription drugs will not become a new trend of the '90s. Negative peer pressure can pose problems for teens but the right education can at least help.
It is the responsibility of parents to educate their children about the dangers of drugs and how to avoid them. Drugs are a scary reality in the world but everyone has to deal with them at some point. Teenagers have to ultimately ask themselves, "Is it worth risking my life to be cool?" No. ?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.