There are several factors which have been identified as the causes of teen drug abuse. Becoming familiar with them and how they contribute to young people’s behavior can help parents prevent substance abuse.
What Causes Teen Drug Abuse?
These reasons why teens may develop a problem with drugs are listed in no particular order. They indicate risk factors for drug abuse. It’s possible for a teen with only one or two risk factors to abuse drugs, while someone with several risk factors may remain drug free.
If one or both of a teen’s parents or a close family member has a history of addiction, it increases the likelihood that the young person will develop one as well.
• Peers who Abuse Drugs
Teens who spend time with other teens or adults who abuse drugs are more likely to adopt the same behavior. They may start using because they want to fit in with their friends and be socially acceptable.
• Self-esteem Issues
Young people who have poor self-esteem are more likely to start experimenting with drugs.
• Mental Health Issues
Teens living with mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or eating disorders are more likely to start using drugs as a way to self-medicate. Using drugs helps them deal with their symptoms.
Parents may be concerned about teens using illicit drugs, but prescription drugs can be used for non medical purposes as well. Lock up prescription medications and keep track of the number of pills left in a bottle. Return any unused medications to a pharmacy for safe disposal.
What Parents Can Do to Lower Risk of their Teen Experimenting with Drugs
It’s important to keep lines of communication open, not just about substance abuse, but about what is going in the teen’s life. Ask questions about school, friends and activities the teen is involved in. If a young person knows there is someone at home who is going to be checking in with them regularly, they may be less likely to experiment with drugs because they don’t want to get into trouble at home.
Talk about the consequences of drug use and the harm that they can cause. Instead of having “the talk” once and letting the subject go, it should be something that is discussed several times. Look for opportunities to bring the subject up naturally, such as when a news story discusses drug abuse statistics or a celebrity gives an interview about their own experiences with substance abuse. Ask your teen what they think, and then wait for a response so that you can have a dialogue, as opposed to giving a lecture.
If your teen is abusing drugs, contact a teen treatment center for an immediate assessment. The center will offer help and recommend an individualized treatment plan.