You know your teen has been exposed in anti-drug campaigns since he was in elementary school. You have given him the talk yourself and you thought he knew the dangers. So, it can be baffling when you discover that your teen has turned to drugs. Teens experiment with and abuse drugs for a variety of reasons during the adolescent years. It can be helpful for parents to understand why in order to help their child avoid future use.
- Peer pressure or low self-esteem– Being told to “Just Say No” is one thing, actually saying it in social situations where teens want to fit in is another. A 2007 PATS Teens study reported that 65 percent of teens claim that they use drugs in order to “feel cool”. The study also found that 65 percent of teens use drugs to “feel better about themselves,” indicating that a desire for social acceptance outweighs the knowledge that it could be harmful.
- Stress– The Partnership for a Drug-Free America performed a study that indicated that stress is the number one reason teens use drugs. Only 7 percent of parents believed that teens might turn to drugs as a response to stress, which means that most underestimate the overall impact of stress and the levels that their teen might be facing.
- Self- Medication– The adolescent years are a minefield of awkward situations and social pressure. Many teens don’t know how to find a healthy outlet for frustration, anxiety and depression. Illegal or prescription drugs allow teens to alter their mood and cope with their symptoms.
- Misinformation– Despite nationwide school campaigns, many teens are misinformed about the dangers of drugs. Around 40 percent reported that they did not see a major risk in experimenting with heroin a few times. A similar number believe that it is safer to abuse prescription drugs than it is to use illegal drugs. Researchers estimate that around 1 in 5 teens have already abused prescription medication in order to get high.
- Access– Drugs are alarmingly easy to acquire these days. Marijuana, meth and heroin are in the rise and over half of teens report that it is easier to get prescription drugs than illegal ones.
While these statistics may seem depressing and alarming, there is also research that indicates that kids who learn about the risks associated with drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to indulge than those who don’t. Keep the lines of communication open with your teen and maintain a dialogue about the dangers of drugs. If your teen has a problem, don’t wait to intervene. The sooner he receives help, the sooner he can turn his life back around.
Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center specializing in helping teens identify and solve the underlying issues that lead to drug abuse. If your teen could benefit from such a program, or if you simply have questions, please contact us for a free consultation at 1-800-675-8101.