The infamous teenage years are prime time for trying new things and asserting one’s independence. As teens transition into adulthood, they often become tempted by adult activities. They want to follow their parents’ lead, try things their friends have already done, and establish their own identities. Drugs and alcohol frequently become involved in this mix.

Many teens turn to marijuana, prescription drugs, club drugs, alcohol, or other substances as a means of coping with stress, relating to their peers, and rebelling against authority. A 2015 study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicated that more than 58% of 12th graders had consumed alcohol and nearly 24% had used illicit drugs in the past year.

Teenagers and young adults get involved with alcohol and drugs for many reasons, including:

Curiosity: They want to know what it feels like to be drunk, intoxicated, or high.

Peer pressure: Their friends are doing it or pressuring them to do the same.

Acceptance: Their parents or role models are doing it and they want to feel accepted by those they look up to.

Defiance: They want to rebel against rules placed on them.

Risk-taking behaviors: They want to send out a call for help.

Thrill-seeking activities: They want to experience something other than numbness.

Boredom: They feel there is nothing else to do, and trying drugs or alcohol gives them a feeling of excitement.

Independence: They want to make their own decisions and assert their own independence.

Pleasure: They want to feel good. Teens are dealing with a heavy mix of emotions, and drugs can help numb any pain and make them feel better even when times are tough.

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