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Why Teens Abuse Drugs and Alcohol

By: Bethany Winkel May 28, 2015 no comments

Why Teens Abuse Drugs and Alcohol

file0001337084503Many parents are caught off-guard by their teen’s drug or alcohol use. They might have higher hopes for their child than a life of addiction, they might not understand the pressures their teen faces, or they might simply not put any thought into how to keep their child drug and alcohol free. It is important for parents to understand the dangers of substance use among teens and know why teens abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. This will allow parents to have educated conversations with their teen and pre-teen about how to avoid substance use.

Bad Influences

There are a variety of reasons teens try drugs or alcohol. One of the most common reasons is they are influenced by other people. They might be pressured by friends to go along with the cool kids or risk facing ridicule by classmates. They might see their parents’ drug or alcohol use and think it is a normal way to live.


Other teens are highly influenced by things like popular media. They see people in movies and on TV getting high or binge drinking and model their behavior after what they see on the screen. Things like magazines, songs, and even social media sites often glamorize substance use, making teens more susceptible to trying it themselves.


Some adolescents use drugs or alcohol simply because they are bored. They might be left unsupervised for long periods of time, especially after school or during the summer months. They might not be able to find anything constructive to do, and start to find dangerous behavior to pass the time.

To Feel Better

Another common reason for teen drug or alcohol abuse is to self-medicate. Many teens struggle with depression and self-loathing, and substances make them feel happier. They might feel better about themselves, have more friendships, and not feel the stress of family life when they are under the influence. Using substances might bolster their confidence and make it easier for them to interact comfortably with others.

Whatever the reason for teen drug or alcohol abuse, substance abuse is never a good answer. While drugs or alcohol might meet a specific need for the moment, before long the teen will become addicted and will face many more troubles.

Drugfree.org has many resources for parents looking for more information about things that might lead their teen to use drugs or alcohol. Parents should familiarize themselves with the temptations their teens face, and learn how to talk to their child about the dangers of drug or alcohol use.

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