What Factors Play a Role in Teen Substance Abuse?

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Finding out that someone you love is abusing drugs or alcohol can quickly take you on an emotional rollercoaster – to say the least. During this sensitive time, you need to be careful not to fall into the trap of assuming you know exactly how they feel, what they want or what they may or may not need. Before you fall victim to assumption, make sure that you take the time to truly understand their reasons, and what’s going on beneath the surface. 

Knowing what’s really going on is a key part to solving the problem. By gaining a better understanding of their actions and behaviour, you’ll likely be in a better position to help them. If you can’t communicate with them directly, you might be able to gain some insight into a potential cause through some research on the most common reasons behind substance abuse in teens.

To fill a void or combat boredom.

One of the most common reasons behind substance abuse in teenhood is boredom. When there seems to be nothing else to do for fun, it’s easy to find that entertainment by drinking or doing drugs. If they have friends that drink, this could also be part of the issue – especially when choosing not to drink could otherwise mean not being able to hang out with them at all. 

To create a sense of belonging and avoid being bullied or seen as an outcast.

Teens may turn to substance abuse to help them feel like they fit in. Experimenting with new substances is fairly common at this age. For many, it’s an intense period of uncertainty coupled with curiosity. To avoid feeling rejected or alienated – or perhaps even bullied – teens may befriend and follow the actions of others who abuse substances, as a way to try and protect themselves. 

To numb emotional pain or cope with deeper issues.

Many people use drugs and alcohol as a way to distract themselves from their reality. In a teen’s case, a few examples could include trying to escape from the pain of their parents getting divorced, being bullied or teased at school, getting bad grades, feeling lonely and lost, or perhaps even grappling with hormones and their body changing. 

When it comes to mental health, teens suffering with social anxiety may also use drugs or alcohol as a way to gain confidence around others, while those with depression might use them as a quick source of dopamine. 

Whatever the reason, abusing substances to dull negative emotions and poor mental health is something which will likely have a profound influence on how they deal with emotions well into adulthood, and possibly, the rest of their lives. This is why it’s so important to spot the cause early and seek help sooner rather than later, to best avoid or lessen any lasting effects.

To rebel or show that they are grown up.

Sometimes, teens start using substances as a form of rebellion, to prove they aren’t a child anymore, or to try and state their general independence. Often, these acts of rebellion happen away from home, which can place teens in dangerous or uncomfortable situations. In these cases it can be hard to even know it’s occurring, especially if there’s no line of communication between the teen and parent or guardian. 

To create a sense of likeness with those they look up to in the media.

Much like trying to fit in at school, teens may also be influenced by those they look up to outside of their education environment. Positively promoting substance abuse is common all over the internet these days, and this message isn’t only coming from adults. Social media can be a hotspot for encouraging unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking, especially when it’s someone famous or something that’s trending.

To satisfy their curiosity. 

Teenage substance abuse could also occur simply out of curiosity. They might use drugs or alcohol only a handful of times so that they can feel what they feel like, with the plan to then never touch them again. Although this is sometimes the case, other times even just a little curiosity can take a turn and lead a person down a life of addiction and struggle. 

A big reason behind this curiosity to abuse alcohol and drugs often comes from a lack of awareness and education behind how these substances harm your health and cause addiction, as well as what they do, how they work and how they make people feel afterwards. Often, even adults aren’t fully aware of just how bad these substances are for our bodies and minds. 

It’s important, therefore, to educate the youth in this area, so that they can make informed decisions both now and when they are adults. Fortunately, if you aren’t ready to have this conversation and they aren’t providing it at school, there are plenty of professionals out there ready to lend you a helping hand.

Get in touch with us.

If you have any additional questions on addiction or would like to speak to one of our team members, feel free to make contact with us at any time. We are only registered to admit patients over the age of 18. However, we may be able to point you in the right direction when looking for help for your loved ones.

Get in touch with us

If you have any additional questions on addiction, would like to speak to one of our team members, or want to hear more about the admissions process, feel free to make contact with us at any time. We look forward to helping you and your loved ones