Unfortunately, substance abuse is a common problem in American society. It is especially pervasive amongst adolescents. Because a teen’s brain is still in its development process, it is particularly fragile. Aside from hormonal and other biological shifts, adding any foreign elements into the chemistry may create a regretful mixture. Without realizing it, adolescents can quickly become victims of substance abuse.

Natural Changes

Adolescence is a time of natural shifts and changes. It may be the most precarious time when it comes to decision making. Teens, for the most part, are ill equipped to make rational choices. The scariest part is that they think they are sophisticated thinkers and invincible. This is what makes adolescents particularly susceptible to developing habits such as misusing and overusing alcohol and drugs. 
The damaging effects of this problem extend to adulthood as well. In fact, individuals who develop drug-related problems during teenage years are more likely to face challenges when trying to withdraw as adults.
Here are some reasons why teens are more likely to become victims of substance abuse:

1.    Company

The most common cause of adolescents falling into substance abuse is peer pressure. At this time, everyone around them is busy trying to discover themselves. Hence, another reason why they are more likely to experiment.
Other kids practicing negative behaviors definitely influence your teenage child—one way or another. They may feel “forced” to try out drugs or alcohol. Saying no is very tough for many teens. They want to be liked and accepted. Additionally, adolescents have great fears about rejection.

2.    Reflection of Parents’ Behavior

Teens are more likely to fall into unsavory patterns when they are surrounded by close adults who struggle with substance abuse. This is because abusing alcohol and drugs no longer seems like a foreign concept. In addition, the adolescent may have easy access to such harmful substances.

3.    Curiosity

This phase of development is about exploration. It’s also about stretching boundaries. It’s no surprise that adolescents have the desire to try out different things, new things, forbidden things. This need to explore the world and find out what alcohol or drug usage feels like is common. However, too often experimentation can lead to developing a addiction.

4.    Lack of Knowledge

As stated earlier, because the brain is still developing, teenagers are more likely to make decisions based on impulses and emotions. This is one reason why they fail to realize the consequences before taking actions. It’s not difficult to see how young people can become victims of substance abuse. They often don’t understand the risks (or accept them as a possible reality.)

5.    To Beat Feeling of Boredom

During adolescence, individuals are more likely to feel bored and crave adventure.  By experimenting with drugs and alcohol, teenagers get the adrenaline rush they may be ultimately seeking. A lack of proper schedule and activities makes many teens try out the habit, which can unwittingly convert into an addiction.

 Can We Prevent our Adolescents from Becoming Victims of Substance Abuse?

A fair response is that we can practice preventative measures to protect our teens. According to UN statistics, the use of alcohol starts from a very young age in 14% of girls and 18% of boys. And because of the vulnerability faced by teens, it is increasingly translating into substance abuse problems that extend to adulthood. Therefore, limiting exposure and accessibility is important. Other successful strategies are to:

  • educate your youngster on the dangers
  • present as a worthy role model
  • keep lines of communication open
  • know who your child’s friends are

Get Thrive has a wide selection of articles that may be helpful to you and your family. Dr. Dave Campbell is also currently offering his eBook for free for a limited time. The Teen Formula: A Parent’s Guide To Helping Your Child Avoid Substance Abuse HERE available in paperback or on Kindle.