Teen substance abuse ranges from glue and alcohol to prescription drugs, to marijuana, and nearly any other drug legal and illegal known to man. The method of abuse may be a pharmacy party where teens bring everything from the medicine cabinet to experiment with too much of too many drugs. It may be a pot party at a friend's house with or without parental supervision. It may be hazing in fraternities or sororities.
Many teens still find that alcohol is the substance of choice because it is relatively easy to get and parents frequently feel relieved that it is only booze. The cause of this abuse in a given teen maybe a little more difficult to uncover.
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Teens long for acceptance by a social group. If this social group bases relationships around getting a buzz from some substance, the teen will feel the pressure to indulge or lose a spot in the group. This type of pressure affects far more teens than it should because parents frequently do not realize the importance of helping their child to get established in the proper type of peer group. In the right group, the likelihood of being pressured into substance abuse is greatly lessened.
Lack of Being Chaperoned
Many parents fear that their children will not like them if they try too hard to monitor the child's activities. As a result, teens may be left to drift through the multiple temptations of substance abuse without being properly chaperoned. It is important that parents remember their responsibility is not to be their child's friend, but to give him or her proper oversight and guidance as the teen years are navigated. A teen's right to privacy should be severely curtailed if it is evident that the teen is unwise in choosing friends and lacks the ability to say no to associates that engage in the wrong type of activity.
Family, School, and Work Stress
Like adults, teens can look for ways to escape the stress and pressure of life through substance abuse. Getting drunk or stoned can become the teen's release valve when daily stress builds. Turning to substance abuse can give the teen a way to forget or ignore the troubles being faced. The problem is that when the teen returns to reality, the abuse problem now is added to all of the other problems on the pile. In this way, substance abuse becomes a vicious cycle even before addiction is factored into the equation.
Ease of Obtaining the Abused Substance
Many of the teens that do not abuse substances simply do not have an easy way to get it. By the time these teens find access to drugs or alcohol or other substances, they may be old enough to resist temptation or have found other ways to deal with stress. Lack of funds can also be a barrier to beginning substance abuse. If the teen cannot afford it, he or she may not be able to get it. This can be another area where parental involvement can make a huge difference. Limiting a teen's ability to get substantial amounts of cash or a way to go alone to score some drugs or other substances may keep the teen from ever starting to use it.
The Parents Are Substance Abusers
Of all the causes that lead to teen substance abuse, the most sinister has to be when the teen is introduced to the substance by a parent. It is beyond understanding why a parent would ever encourage their teen to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana. However, it happens regularly. The parent brings the substance to the teen to learn how to use it and to discover what it is like.
It is important that teens be at least somewhat shielded from the opportunity to begin substance abuse. Overuse and abuse of nearly any substance can lead to physical problems, addictions, and possibly death. It is critical that parents and other adults work to prevent substance abuse in any teen in any way possible.