81% of teens claimed to have the opportunity to take illicit drugs, 42.5% actually tried them. Drugs are a big problem among today’s youth. And the way we are attempting to solve this problem is obviously not working. After doing a bit of research, one can determine why teens take drugs and that the best way to prevent drug use is to educate them and take a community approach.
Why Do Teens Take Drugs?
The main reasons teens take drugs is usually because of peer pressure, they use them as an outlet, or want to improve athletically/academically. They’re going through a phase in life where they are extremely emotional, easily influenced, and have the need to fit in.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse had stated, “Abused drugs interact with the neurochemistry of the brain to produce feelings of pleasure. The intensity of this euphoria differs by the type of drug and how it is used” (NIDA). Many teens suffer from depression, anxiety, stress-related disorders, and physical pain. The need to experience a “good feeling” is extremely high and drugs can give that to them in minutes. They start trying stronger, deadlier drugs and quickly become addicts. Furthermore, teens who lack social skills and want to fit in might try drugs without even knowing the consequences. The good feeling and increase in attention they receive from their peers results in the continuous use/abuse of drugs, both illegal and prescription.
Additionally, as stated by the Mayo Clinic Staff, “Some teens experiment with performance-enhancing drugs as a way to cope with… insecurities… Others might be influenced by pressure to make a team or get a competitive edge” (M.C. Staff). Society has labeled excess weight as a bad thing and many teens try to quickly get rid of “excess weight” and “be attractive” in the eyes of society. Other teens are pressured by family and peers to do well in either sports, academics, or both and will turn to drugs to improve their performance or release stress.
Preventing Drug Abuse Among Teens
Usually, when minors are caught with drugs their parents receive a fine or the teen is sent to juvenile hall. However, after doing some research and interviewing people in the community, one can conclude that educating teens on drugs and taking a community approach would prevent drug use among minors.
Kareem, an after school coach who works with youth and has experience with drugs, was asked the question “What do you think needs to be done to prevent youth from using/dealing drugs?”. He responded with, “More awareness programs, seminars, just more awareness. We need to educate our people on drugs and the effect it has on our community” (Kareem). Many teens take drugs without even knowing the consequences. Not only do they hurt themselves, but the people around them. If we educate our youth and inform them about the risks of drug use, they will think twice about abusing drugs. The temporary pleasure they experience isn’t worth the after effects of taking the drug. The more aware they are, the less likely teens are going to take drugs and potentially ruin their future.
Moreover, a representative of the Chrysalis Drug and Alcohol Rehab Center stated, “Education is the best tool… the more education a person has, the better choices they make” (Chrysalis). Educating youth instead of keeping them in the dark and trying to control their choices is the best option. Many parents try to keep children in the dark about subjects like drugs and sex. But teens find out either because of school or the internet. It’s better to educate the children and teach them about the consequences of drugs instead of them learning about it from friends and trying drugs to fit in or “be cool”.