What Causes Teen Substance Abuse?
Drug abuse isn’t defined by demographics. It’s an issue that plagues large cities and small towns alike, targeting our youth and destroying any hope they may have of a positive future. To battle this epidemic we need to ask ourselves, what causes our youth to use drugs? While there are no crystal ball answers to this plague, below is a listing of the major factors that influence teen substance abuse
Accessibility – Ask any teenager today how difficult is it to buy drugs in your community and I guarantee you they’ll ask, which drug do you want? There is such an array of drugs in every community that accessibility is our biggest obstacle. It isn’t just illegal drugs, but prescription drugs, over the counter drugs and even household chemicals. Over the years teenagers have become more and more creative at finding new ways to get high. This has made the fight against drug abuse even more difficult. In some communities, commonly used medications have been put behind the counter and now require an id to purchase. This reduces the accessibility of certain drugs.
Low Self-esteem -The one asset that is missing in the majority of youth who succumb to substance abuse is self esteem. Teens with low self-esteem are more likely to do drugs. As a misguided youth, these teens often feel rejected by society, by their peers and even sometimes by their families. Doing drugs isn’t just about fitting in. It is about belonging to something. In joining a peer group who spends their free time partying, these misguided youth find a brotherhood. While the brotherhood may be extremely dysfunctional, some teens see these friends as a solution to the solitude and desolation that they feel. For the first time they feel as if they belong to something, regardless of the repercussions. Teaching our youth to respect themselves and their bodies is one technique being used to combat this.
Boredom – In our small community the largest complaint among our youth is boredom. There is nothing else to do but party. Unfortunately the endless cycle of partying has cost us dozens of lives and even more futures. It isn’t truly that there is nothing to do. It is merely that the hobbies these youth have chosen don’t allow them to see the endless possibilities of things to do. We have an array of beautiful parks, a swimming pool, a skate park, a movie theater, and nearly every sport known to man, and if something in that list doesn’t appeal to you, there are dozens of volunteer opportunities to suit nearly any interest. The challenge is turning these teenagers on to healthy habits!
Family Structure – With so many divorced and single parent households many teenagers today are left with too much free time and not enough family time. Many parents today are struggling trying to make ends meet. We rush through our busy lives, in such a hurry we forget what our priorities should be. This not only leaves our youth searching for a sense of belonging, but also a sense of values. Values that they should be learning at home, they are forced to learn from whoever will offer. Unfortunately, too often the people offering are the last people we would ever want our children taking advice from.
As you can see there are many factors contributing to teenage drug abuse. These factors can be reduced and we can win the battle against drug abuse, one youth at a time!