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Three common reasons that teens use drugs

If you have a teen and are worried that he or she may get involved with drugs at some point, it helps to know the common reasons that teens use illegal substances. This way, you can work to prevent issues such as boredom.

1. Teens use drugs because they're bored

Idleness can lead to trouble. Bored teens have a lot of time to fill, and drugs provide a means of escape. Sometimes, they are even a pathway to a teen's ultimate goal. For instance, a bored teen who wants to make friends may take drugs in order to make these friends.

The solution is to ensure that your teen has plenty to do so that buying or selling drugs is not on the agenda. Overscheduling is not the answer, but an after-school activity, or even several, should be on the list. Volunteering and working are other options for a teen to use time wisely.

2. Teens try to treat depression

The link between drug use and self-medication for conditions such as depression is well documented. Many teens deal with issues such as anxiety, peer pressure, poor self-esteem, parental criticism and puberty, all of which can lead to depression, whether situational or clinical. The lure of feel-good drugs can draw them in, and a dangerous cycle may begin, especially if the drugs give them the courage to do things they never would have (such as asking someone out on a date).

Many possible proactive strategies exist. One is to reserve judgment about your teens; avoid making critical comments about their appearance, weight and friends, no matter how helpful the comments are. Also, try to ensure that your teens have healthy social networks; they are less likely to use drugs if their friends are confident and self-motivated. Work to maintain open communication channels, and if you suspect depression, counseling can help. Have your teen participate in activities that are good for his or her confidence.

3. They see other people doing it

Whether it is their friends or people on TV or in another group, teens see others using drugs, and they may want to experience the substances, too. While peer pressure and cultural saturation are frightening to go up against, you can try by making sure that your teens have a balanced picture of the dangers that drugs present. Often, you can do this stealthily; for instance, one of your volunteer experiences together could be with a population adversely affected by drugs. Likewise, you could give your teen a birthday gift of a well-received YA novel in which a character has bad experiences with drugs.

If your teen uses drugs or associates with people who do, legal trouble could happen. In such cases, getting in touch with an attorney can help keep your teen safe.

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