Drug abuse

Causes of Drug Abuse

Did you ever think about why you are an addict? Do you understand all the harm of drug abuse?
What’s your poison? Cigarettes? Marijuana? Ecstasy? Oxy? Have you ever stopped to think about why you’re doing drugs and, more importantly, what price you pay to your health, your happiness, and your relationships?

There are lots of reasons kids try drugs: peer pressure, boredom, curiosity, opportunity, you name it. But according to teen counselor Neil McNerney most kids keep doing drugs for one of two reasons:

1. A Lifestyle Choice

For some kids, drugs are part of a lifestyle. In other words, you do it for fun, but you also develop an interest in drugs beyond just getting high. You might spend time online researching a drug’s history, purity, or new and innovative ways to get high. You only spend time with other kids who are into your drug of choice. Time not spent getting high is spent reminiscing about highs past. “Getting high becomes the whole kit and caboodle,” says McNerney.

Why this is a bad choice

All that fun has a price. You’re letting drugs take over your mental space, leaving no room for sports, school, family, or anyone who isn’t doing drugs with you. You may not be ready to admit it, but you’re probably already aware of the price you’re paying. Your relationships with your parents and siblings are suffering. You might even have resorted to lifting a few bucks from their wallets to feed your habit. Your grades have dropped. You’ve lost touch with old friends and lost interest in activities that once gave you pleasure. You’ve become a one trick pony, and even you can see there’s more to life than getting high.


2. Self-Medication

Then there are kids who do drugs as a form of self-medication, to help cover up feelings of depression, anxiety, and general misery or to block out problems at home, at school, or with friends. When you’re high (or drunk), you forget those problems, if only for a few precious hours. You may do drugs alone or with others; all you care about is getting your fix so you can escape from reality for a little while.

Why should you stop?

Drugs may help you feel better for a bit, but they are almost never an effective long-term solution. Plus, they have side effects that can cause major trouble down the road, from making you more susceptible to depression or other mental illnesses to rotting your teeth or damaging vital organs. There are better ways to handle your problems.

Talk to your parents or another trusted adult, such as a teacher or coach. Tell them you need help. Yes, you may need medication for a little while, but it will work better, the long-term effects aren’t so severe, and you are not likely to need it for long. You’ll be monitored, and you’ll likely get more help than just medication. Maybe some changes need to happen at home or at school, or maybe a therapist can teach you some useful coping tools.

Teens and Drugs – How do I Stop?

The good news, according to McNerney, is that most kids are able to stop drugs cold turkey without too much trouble. If you haven’t been doing drugs for too long, your body hasn’t developed the addiction that can send long-time users to rehab.

The key is to be motivated. You have to want to, and you have to make the lifestyle changes that support your choices – such as staying away from the people and places you associate with drugs and making an effort to develop healthy new habits to fill the gap. You’ll also need to make sure that whatever problems you’re masking with drugs – problems you may not even be fully aware of – are addressed in a healthier way.

If you try to stop and can’t seem to do it, you might be suffering from an addiction, and that’s a good time to ask for help.A parent, doctor, hospital emergency room, coach, teacher, or school guidance counselor can help you find a professional treatment program that can give you the support you need to stop for good and start your life for real.


For Parents

Are you concerned that your kids might be into drugs? From funky-smelling clothes to changes in behavior and mood, the signs are usually right under your nose. Help them stop by staying calm and supportive but also by creating the boundaries they need to stay safe.

Here are some tips from Neil McNerney, a licensed counselor in private practice in Reston, VA, to help you do that:

  • Provide hard consequences: Don’t panic, but make clear that you have a zero-tolerance policy on drug use and that there will be consequences, such as lost privileges (e.g., driving license, cell phone, or Internet) if they break the rules.
  • Forget privacy: Don’t be afraid to search your child’s backpack (a common hiding place for drugs) and bedroom.Teach your kids that privacy is something to be earned through trustworthy behavior.
  • Don’t buy the bull: When you find evidence of drugs (you smell it on their clothes or find it in their backpacks) expect an avalanche of excuses, from “I was at a party where other kids were smoking up” to “I’m holding it for a friend.” Don’t be fooled.
  • Examine peer groups: If your kids’ friends are all doing drugs, stopping will probably mean needing to find new friends and new interests.
  • Provide an excuse: Kids can often get out of doing drugs despite pressure from peers if they have a good excuse – they say they are in treatment or being regularly tested for drugs by their parents. So, regular drug testing can actually make your child’s life easier by providing them with an “out” during moments of temptation. After a while, hanging out with a bunch of stoners will seem boring to your sober kid.
  • Work it out together: McNerney suggests a “shoulder-to-shoulder” talk where you look at the problem together. Acknowledge with your child that finding new friends is extremely difficult. Talk about ways to make that happen as quickly as possible, such as joining clubs and sports teams.
  • Provide other options: Many kids are attracted to drugs because they are risky. Give them other ways to nurture their inner adrenaline junky with high thrill activities like skateboarding, rock climbing, and snowboarding

Written By Alison Palkhivala