Teens try alcohol and drugs for many of the same reasons that adults
use them. Teens also use alcohol and drugs to:
Be social and have fun. Most teens use alcohol
and drugs for the first time in a social setting. They believe that addiction
"won't happen to me."
Explore and try new things. Teens are curious
and often want to know what it feels like to be high. Some teens believe that
it is an expected and acceptable thing to do. Often parents encourage teens to
try alcohol and cigarettes, thinking that the teen is safe because he or she is
not using "drugs."
Be more mature, glamorous, or sexy. Teens may
think using alcohol or drugs makes them more grown-up and more confident. Many
advertisements give the impression that alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs increase
sex appeal, confidence, and fun.
Fit in with a group. Teens who
feel that they are outsiders may fit in with a group that uses alcohol,
cigarettes, or other drugs because they don't feel that they can fit in with
Rebel or act out against their parents. Sometimes
teens use substances as a way to rebel against their parents' authority. They
may engage in other risk-taking behaviors as well.
Feel better or
escape their problems. Teens with psychiatric conditions, such as depression or
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may
use substances in an attempt to treat their symptoms. Teens with high stress
may use substances to take their mind off the stress for a while. In addition,
teens who have been physically or sexually abused or who have
post-traumatic stress disorder may use substances to
relieve their pain and to escape.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
August 19, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 19, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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