Peer pressure is powerful and is a contributing factor to some of the experiences that adolescents participate in, including experimenting with drugs. Teen drug experimentation can lead down a path of destruction, especially in teens. Asking the right questions and gaining knowledge can help in avoiding a potential path to drug addiction. Should your child struggle with teen drug experimentation, a drug addiction treatment program for teens can help.
Why is Teen Drug Experimentation Dangerous?
Some teens may think they are able to avoid the temptation of abusing drugs or advancing to other drugs besides their initial choice of alcohol or marijuana. Teens may feel they are in full control of their drug experimentation. The teenage brain cannot completely resist temptation or maintain control once drug experimentation starts. The areas of the brain that control maturity, making decisions, and controlling impulsive actions are not yet fully developed. This means that you are more susceptible to drug addiction than adults who experiment with drugs. The younger you start experimenting with drugs, the more likely you are to suffer from drug addiction. Experimenting with drugs also leads to other risky behaviors. One of those is lowered inhibitions, which can lead to saying “yes” to sex when you otherwise would not agree to sex or perhaps not with that particular partner. There is also an established connection between drug use and HIV/AIDS. Whether that risk is due to having sex while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or by sharing needles, the connection between drug use and HIV/AIDS is real.
Effects of Prescription Drugs
Teens also have a higher risk of accidental overdose when experimenting with drugs, which is sometimes fatal. This is true even in the event of an overdose of prescription drugs, whether the prescription belongs to the teen or it is a prescription drug prescribed for someone else. Prescription drugs also affect the brain in a similar manner that drugs such as cocaine, club, or street drugs have a harmful effect on the brain. In 2001, there were 9,197 deaths attributed to a prescription drug overdose. Of those, 765 were young people. In 2011, there were 1,950 deaths of young people directly attributed to prescription drugs (NIDA 2015). Just because a doctor writes a prescription for a particular drug does not make it safe. If you take it in excess or take a medication not prescribed for you, it can easily lead to addiction or accidental overdose. Getting help before experimenting with drugs leads to addiction will help you regain control over your life.
Is Experimenting with Drugs Worth the Risk?
Peer pressure is powerful and teens frequently give in to it and experiment with drugs. There are multiple risks to drug experimentation. You wanted to look cool and join in with your friends who touted the benefits of experimenting with drugs, whether it was one drug or multiple substances. Now you may need help and not know where to turn. Experimenting with drugs does not make you a bad person. Seeking help early on can prevent a dangerous path to drug addiction and other serious consequences. You should not feel like you are a failure or that everyone will know if you admit that experimenting with drugs is a problem for you or a loved one. Reaching out for help can lead you back on the right path. Destinations for Teens provides a variety of programs and services that help teens get their life back on track. These can include the following:
- Bellum, S., Why Does Peer Pressure Influence Teens to Try Drugs? NIDA for Teens, 2012 May, Retrieved from http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/why-does-peer-pressure-influence-teens-try-drugs
- Brain in Progress: Why Teens Can’t Always Resist Temptation, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2015 January, Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2015/01/brain-in-progress-why-teens-cant-always-resist-temptation
- Drug Facts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Revised 2012 November, Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction
- HIV, AIDS, and Drug Use, NIDA for teens, last updated 2015 March, Retrieved from http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/hiv-aids-and-drug-use