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Drug Use in High School: Why Do Teens Abuse Drugs?

teens abuse drugs

Have you ever wondered how common drug use in high school is, or even why teens abuse drugs in the first place? While drugs can impact individuals of all ages, teenagers are high at risk for substance abuse. It’s important to get educated on the reasons why teens abuse drugs, so that preventative measures can be taken and more effective treatments can be discovered.

Understanding Drug Use in High School

There has been a rise of drug use in high school over the years as more teens abuse drugs for the first time during adolescence. Since drug use can lead to frequent drug abuse and addiction, it’s important to share information on the dangers of drugs, symptoms of substance use disorders, and treatment options. The rise in teenage drug use can be explained by a number of factors.

Reasons Teens Abuse Drugs

From feeling pressured to use drugs to using them for experimentation, teens abuse drugs for a range of reasons.

Peer Pressure

Some teens honestly believe that “everybody” is using drugs or drinking alcohol, and then start to feel like they should be doing the same. Not every teenager feels this way, but some do and end up abusing substances for their first time as a result. Another form of peer pressure is when teens are around their friends or classmates and are literally pressured into taking a drink or using drugs. While it is important to know how to respond to these types of situations, it’s important to realize that “just saying no” isn’t effective when an individual is already addicted to the substances.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Another reasons teens abuse drugs is because they use them to “self-medicate.” Some teens may suffer from depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or other mental health conditions that they attempt to treat with alcohol and/or drugs. Even if a teen has not been diagnosed with a mental health issue, they may be suffering from one and not realize that this is why they depressed, manic, aggressive, etc.

Coping with Problems

Similarly, teens may abuse drugs and other substances to escape a painful reality. They may be dealing with problems like the divorce of their parents, death of a loved one, physical and/or sexual abuse, financial distress, etc. Teens may turn to drugs or alcohol after experiencing some type of trauma like this because they don’t know any other way to cope.

Curiosity and Experimentation

It’s also possible that teens abuse drugs because of their natural curiosity about them. Teens may wish to experiment with drugs or alcohol, but this can be dangerous as substance abuse, especially at a young age, can result in addiction, if not immediately then later in life.

Treatment for Drug Abuse & Addiction

While teens are prone to abusing substances in high school, there is treatment for teen drug abuse and addiction. If you suspect that your teenager is suffering from a drug problem, then it’s important to reach out to your child’s guidance counselor and create an appropriate plan for support and treatment. This may involve outpatient treatment services, inpatient rehabilitation, 12 Step meetings, and/or counseling.

It can be tough when you discover that your own teenager is struggling with drug abuse and/or dependency, but it’s most important that you focus on getting them the help they need.

The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs does not provide teen drug abuse and addiction treatment, but if you are trying to find treatment for your teenager who is struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse, The Watershed will provide information and resources when you call the 24-Hour Crisis & Support Help Line at 1-800-861-1768.

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