Why Do Teens Start Using Drugs?

The teen years can be filled with impulsive decisions and irrational choices. It can also be a time of simply living for today, without any thoughts of the consequences that may come from those decisions and choices. This is often one of the factors that can lead many teens to start to experiment with drugs.

Studies have shown that children and teens as young as 12 years old have experimented with drugs and alcohol. This is a harrowing thought. Children who haven’t even entered high school are developing dangerous and potentially deadly habits at such a young age.

If you have discovered that your teen is using drugs, you must take the time to uncover just what led them to turn to use drugs. This can give you some insight into the problem and just how severe it is. It can also give you a good starting point for helping your teen through the turbulent times he may be going through.

Understanding the why

You know that teens can often take on a devil-may-care attitude and be prone to making impulsive decisions.

There is more to it for teens who use and abuse drugs. While no two teens will have the same shared experiences and reasons for their drug use, there are common reasons that lead many to turn to experimentation and abuse, including:

  • Peer pressure. It can be difficult for teens to make new friends and maintain evolving friendships. The teen years can bring lowered self-esteem, insecurities, and a deep fear of not being accepted by their peers. To fit in and appear to be as cool as the other kids in their peer group, teens can find themselves succumbing to peer pressure. The pressure may not even be direct and mocking. It could be as simple as being offered drugs or alcohol. The teen may not want to appear to be uncool, so he’ll accept it when it’s offered to him.
  • Self-medicating against mental health concerns. Mental health concerns can become a genuine concern for teens, with the symptoms of anxiety and depression often showing up in these formative years. Teens can find themselves desperate to feel numb against what they are feeling, leading them to self-medicate. There are several types of drugs that teens could use to tune out the noise of their day-to-day life. As a coping mechanism, drugs are perhaps the worst thing that your teen could do to cope with his feelings.
  • Performance enhancement, on the field and in the classroom. If your teen has an overburdened schedule, with school and outside activities taking up much of his time, he may start to look for ways to cope. This could come in the form of drugs that offer him a way to get less sleep and be more alert each day. There’s often so much pressure placed upon teens. It can be difficult for them to keep up with everything in a timely manner.
  • Boredom and experimentation. Teens can often find themselves bored and lacking entertainment. In a world where they are almost programmed not to feel boredom and where the actual internet is at their fingertips, your teen may find it challenging to be on his own without being constantly entertained. This can lead him to experiment with various drugs, raid the medicine cabinet in the home, and find himself soon in a world of drug and alcohol trouble.

The more you understand what your teen is going through, the sooner you can get him the help he needs. With an understanding of the why, you can move on to learning about how you can learn to recognize the signs of drug use and abuse in your teen.

Recognizing the signs of drug use

Do you know the signs of drug use? Despite what movies and television may tell us, the signs may be a lot more subtle.

Some of these signs could include:

  • Loss of interest in school and skipping school with increasing frequency.
  • Decrease in school performance. A once straight-A student may be now failing.
  • Lack of interest in spending any time with the family.
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyed activities, including time spent with friends.
  • Behavioral changes, including withdrawal, angry outbursts, depression, and more.
  • Unusually sneaky behavior, including breaking curfew.
  • Stealing from family and friends.
  • Strange odors around their bedroom and on their person

Your teen may show some of these signs of drug use, may show several all at once or may show none at all. It could be that you’ve discovered drugs and drug paraphernalia in his bedroom.

Whatever the case may be, the sooner you intervene, the sooner he will be on the path to recovery.

Next steps if you suspect your teen is using drugs

If you’ve discovered that your teen is using and abusing drugs, it can be hard to determine the right time to intervene. The reality is that only you truly understand the dynamics of your family. You’ll be the best person to know and understand the exact day where it not only serves the child but can help every member of the family.

Here are some steps to help guide your decision to intervene:

  • Make a plan. What do you want from the situation? In an ideal world, you’ll want to take your teen away from all of the bad things that have contributed to his drug use and abuse. But in reality, you will need to help him better cope with the factors contributing to his drug habits. Help him to establish goals and make a plan to work towards the goal.
  • Get support from family and friends. You may not want to involve anyone else in what feels like a tough situation for all involved. The truth is that by allowing your family and friends to be aware of the situation, you’ll be allowing them the opportunity to support you and your troubled teen both.
  • Confronting your teen. A teen who has been using and abusing drugs is likely to deny the use and get angry with you for confronting them about the use. This is why it’s so important not to take this route on your own. Having another parent or concerned friend to help support you can be beneficial.
  • Consider therapeutic options for your teen. Whether your teen is struggling with mental wellness, peer pressure, or something else entirely, you must take the time to consider each of the options he has available to him to help him heal. Individual therapy, group therapy, and a therapeutic treatment facility can each be viable options for your teen to consider.

It’s never an easy thing for a parent to discover their teenager is using and abusing drugs. Allow a clear head to prevail as you work closely with your teen to help him restore a sense of normalcy to his life.

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