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What Causes Teens to Abuse Drugs?

Teen drug use is a major problem. The younger a child is when they begin to abuse drugs and alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an addiction and the more severe their addiction is likely to be. Even worse, teen drug abuse can cause serious and lifelong problems, including brain damage, missing out on important life milestones, and even death. This makes it important to recognize the causes of teen drug abuse and hopefully prevent them

7 Minute Read | Published Oct 06 2023 | Updated Nov 06 2023

Although recent statistics suggest that teen drug use is declining. As positive as this trend is, millions of teenagers continue to turn to drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons. Learning about the causes of teenage substance abuse can better equip parents and other family members to stay engaged with and supportive of young people.

Experimentation is one of the biggest causes of teen drug abuse. Some kids decide to explore drugs out of simple curiosity. They may be curious how drugs will make them feel, or they may have observed others using drugs and want to experience the same thing themselves.

Although experimentation may seem harmless, any drug abuse can lead teenagers down a dangerous path. You might ask yourself, “With all of the scary information about drug abuse effects and overdoses out there, why do teens abuse drugs?” It’s common for an adolescent to make a decision to try a drug, intending to use it only once to see what it’s like. 

Peer Pressure as a Cause of Teen Drug Use

Teenagers feel a very powerful need to belong and to be seen as, “cool,” or, “popular” with their peer group. This makes them likely to give in to peer pressure and decide to try drugs or alcohol because their friends are doing it.

Unfortunately, teen drug abuse can set a precedent set for drug use. Peer pressure doesn’t necessarily end after the first try: Teens will often continue to experience pressure to use again because they gave in the first time.

Coping or Escape as a Cause of Teen Drug Use

Because the teenage years can be full of stress and anxiety, some youngsters turn to drugs as a coping mechanism to help them deal with emotional struggles. Some kids are also looking for a way to escape from their problems or struggles, and drugs appear to offer an easy exit strategy.

However, using drugs as a coping mechanism is very likely to lead to addiction. The more teens use drugs, the more stress and anxiety that they have to deal with, which leads to more drug use, which leads to more stress and anxiety, which eventually traps them in a downward spiraling cycle.

Even worse, teens who use drugs as a coping mechanism never develop healthy coping mechanisms that will aid them later in life. Lacking healthy coping mechanisms is a major cause for adult drug abuse.

Other Causes of Teen Drug Abuse

There are many other causes of teen drug abuse. Some of the most common include:

  • Co-occurring mental illness, also known as dual diagnosis
  • Past trauma
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Home and family environment
  • Lack of parental involvement or supervision
  • Exposure to family drug use
  • Low self-esteem

Get Treatment for Teen Drug Abuse

At BetterAddictionCare, we understand many of the root causes of teen substance abuse, and our services are designed to help patients and their families find addiction recovery services. Our highly trained client care specialists are both caring and professional, and we can help match you with the individualized addiction counseling you need. 

Our services begin with a personal pre-screening, which looks at the causes of teen drug abuse and helps determine each patient’s needs and the best treatment option to fit these needs. We can connect you with inpatient treatment centers nationwide that are accepting new patients. If the best program for your needs isn’t near you, our representatives can step in to coordinate transportation. We can also help figure out insurance coverage to make these treatment options affordable.

Not only can BetterAddictionCare help patients get sober, but we also offer extensive education and support for family members. We stay connected with family members to provide regular updates about progress. Learning about addiction also helps family members know how to support their loved one who is going through treatment. Call today to speak with a counselor to learn about the causes of teen drug abuse and what you can do to stop it. You can also fill out our contact form to get help now.


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