Understanding Causes of Teenage Drug Abuse

There are numerous causes of teenage drug abuse, each of which can contribute to a life-long habit of consuming drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Certain circumstances have been identified as risk factors for developing a drug habit at an early age, which means that the teenagers who exhibit those risk factors are far more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Lack of Supervision
It stands to reason that one of the primary causes of teenage drug abuse is poor parental supervision. Children and teenagers who are left alone for long periods of time or who are allowed to come and go as they please will have more opportunities for exposure to drugs. Fortunately, this is one of the causes of drug abuse that can easily be avoided.

Alcohol remains the drug of choice. However, for teenagers to obtain alcohol, someone must buy it for them, and parental supervision can prevent that. Ask where you child is going, get a phone number where he can be reached, and monit his activities outside the home. Get involved in your teenager's life and interest yourself in what he does with his time. The more you know about your teen, the better you will be able to protect him from drugs and alcohol.

Don't be one of those "cool" parents who hosts parties where alcohol is served. You're sending a dangerous message that you find drinking acceptable, and you're exposing yourself to legal liability.

Availability
If there is alcohol in your home and your teenager has access to it when you are away or not paying attention, you're leaving the door open to abuse.

This applies to all drugs, from cigarettes to prescription medications. Teenagers are learning that they can achieve highs from legal drugs that are prescribed to someone else. Methamphetamine, hallucinogens and psychoactive drugs can be found at so-called "pharm parties." Many of the drugs found at these gatherings are obtained from teen's own homes.

Keep prescription drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and other substances in a locked cabinet or drawer. Make it clear that using these substances is not acceptable, and check the levels of all substances regularly.

Availability is also an issue when it comes to retailers. If retailers sell alcohol and cigarettes to minors, they are contributing to the problem. Most communities have programs in place to make sure that customers present ID to buy alcohol and cigarettes, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be vigilant. If you see or hear about local retailers providing alcohol or cigarettes to minors, let your community licensing board know about it.

Lack of Communication
Many of the causes of teen drug abuse can be eliminated simply by talking.

If teenagers know the specific dangers of drugs and alcohol, they will be more likely to avoid them. Vague explanations will probably not be effective in this situation. Instead, statistics and facts are far more likely to work. Get online with your teen and look for informative sites that discuss the risks of drug abuse.

Some teens may abuse drugs because they think their parents don't care. Communication solves this problem. Talk to your teen daily about her life, finding out how her friendships and schoolwork are going. Be there as much as you can, and make a point of being awake to greet her when she gets home at night. Knowing that a sobriety checkpoint is waiting inside the front door is enough to convince many teens to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

Tolerance at School
It is widely known that one of the causes of teenage drug abuse is finding drugs, alcohol and cigarettes available at school. When teenagers are selling drugs out of their lockers, they endanger every other student. Encourage local schools to conduct routine locker checks and to educate teachers about how to spot signs of drug use. Every school should have a zero tolerance policy for drug use, including suspensions for intoxicated students and mandatory treatment programs for repeat offenders.

The same rules need to apply to school functions. In recent years, athletic events have become a haven for drunken, rowdy behavior by teens. Schools need to stop this behavior by monitoring students as they come and go, conducting searches for alcohol and drugs and barring students who show signs of intoxication.

Stereotyping
One of the most grievous causes of teenage drug abuse is stereotyping, which is linked to parental supervision and communication. Many parents assume that their children are not at risk for drug or alcohol abuse and that they therefore shouldn't worry. In reality, there is no specific type of teenager who might abuse drugs.

Any child or teenager could be at risk, so don't make assumptions. Educate all teenagers about how drugs affect the mind and body and how they can avoid them in the future. Education is the easiest way to prevent a destructive addiction from forming.

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