There are many diseases we face today with quite serious implications. Some of them affect a person’s physical health, limiting the activities in which a person can participate. Others affect the mind, causing one of a variety of mental and emotional illnesses. However, addiction is one of the very afflictions that are not physical or psychological, but rather is a combination of both. As severe as that may sound, the effects cannot be understated. After developing an addiction to drugs, a person is affected individually, at the familial level, and it even reverberates through the community and the country at large.
As serious as the addiction problem has become in recent years, one of the most concerning occurrences has been the frequency with which adolescents and teens are turning to drugs. This means there are more and more teens who are putting themselves at risk of such things as being attacked while under the influence, contracting sexual diseases due to having unsafe sexual encounters while intoxicated and even a significant risk of overdose. Therefore, it’s crucial for parents to be able to determine when their children are using dangerous drugs. But it’s also important to understand some of the factors that have shown to contribute to a teen’s drug use. Many would assume that peer pressure is the main reason, and while it’s certainly a common one, there are actually many other reasons
PORTRAYALS OF TEEN DRUG ABUSE IN THE MEDIA
One of the most sensationalized explanations for teenage drug use has been the media. Although drug use is far from glorified on the news, it’s in movies where drug use is sometimes portrayed as being a lifestyle that may seem desirable to youths. In some instances, drug use is associated with certain types of music or art or even the lives of industry moguls. Teens watching these movies, admiring the fun that is being portrayed, may assume that it’s the use of drugs that are the source of the enjoyment. The only way to mitigate the effects of the glorification of drug use in the media is to ensure that teens are aware of the many negative effects that result from drug use, which will help to make them aware that addiction isn’t a lifestyle to which a person should aspire.
POOR SELF-ESTEEM AND LACK OF CONFIDENCE
Just about any adolescent or teen will have had poor self-esteem at some point in his or her life. Whether it’s about one’s body, self-consciousness about one’s interests, or some other factor, all adolescents will at some point feel insecure. This is extremely common since adolescents are likely to compare themselves to others while not yet understanding why they may be different from others and that different doesn’t have to mean inferior.
For some teens, this self-consciousness may become worse rather than subsiding over time, which has proven to cause many of them to turn to drug abuse as a means of placating their poor self-esteem and compensate for their lack of confidence. In other words, drug use is able to distract them from their self-consciousness, preventing them from being uncomfortable with themselves due to frequent intoxication. However, the use of drugs to mitigate the effects of poor self-esteem can be considered foreshadowing for when the individual eventually ends up using drugs as a form of self-medication in adulthood.
Much like the frequency with which teens experience self-esteem issues, most teens will have had many points throughout their adolescence when they wanted to escape from their own lives. Whether it’s because of something mild like embarrassment or because of some type of trauma they’re experiencing at home, drug use presents a way for them to escape their realities, essentially allowing them to self-medicate so they don’t have to feel alone, misunderstood, mistreated, lonely, and so on.
The teen years are the period in a person’s life when they often test boundaries. In particular, teens will experiment with disobedience and “rebellion” by failing to adhere to their parents’ rules, which can be something like curfew or sneaking out at night. Similarly, drug use can begin as a means of rebelling. Knowing that their parents won’t approve, drug use makes teens feel like they’re their own bosses, able to do whatever they want no matter what their parents say. Unfortunately, when teenage rebellion doesn’t quickly subside it can often escalate very quickly. For example, a teen who starts off smoking marijuana may want to push his or her limits further by experimenting with cocaine or heroin.
Knowing that their parents won’t approve, drug use makes teens feel like they’re their own bosses, able to do whatever they want no matter what their parents say. Unfortunately, when teenage rebellion doesn’t quickly subside it can often escalate very quickly. For example, a teen who starts off smoking marijuana may want to push his or her limits further by experimenting with cocaine or heroin.
This is a pretty simple, straightforward source of drug use among teens: boredom. And sometimes, that’s really all there is to it. A teen will begin experimenting with drugs because (a) he or she is bored and has nothing better or more constructive to do, and (b) there are drugs readily available or at least easily accessible. Fortunately, it’s rather easy to prevent boredom from causing a person to use drugs due to having nothing else to do. Encouraging teens to devote some of their free time to activities that are productive, enjoyable, and safe can prevent teens from turning to drugs.
Being so young with minimal life experience, teens make many of their decisions based on their assumptions rather than from any direct, personal experience. This causes them to be quite naïve, which is frequently combined with the assumption that their behaviors and choices are correct, “proving” that life experience is irrelevant. Moreover, teens have a tendency to see themselves as immortal and invulnerable to most things that would otherwise be considered harmful, including drugs. As such, many teens begin abusing drugs merely because their lack of experience and knowledge causes them to underestimate the dangers of drugs.
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