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English -School Project
Topic: How Teens Are Exposed to Drugs and
Worked by : Irida Pajenga , Geri Kadiu, Hyjnor Kaleci, Geraldo Beshku.
Accepted by : Ms. Emi Kokobobo.
How Teens Are Exposed to Drugs and
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,
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
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
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.
At any age, people want to be liked and accepted by those around them. This is especially
true for adolescents and teens who are going through a process of transformation from childhood
into adulthood. They are still discovering who they are, and through the confusion that often
causes, want all the more to be accepted by their peers.
Imagine you find yourself with someone you trust and admire. You are handed a bong, a bottle,
or some pills and offered a place in the crowd. Even the most upstanding student may be tempted
to try…just this once. Teens give into peer pressure for many reasons, including:
Fear of rejection.
Notwantingto be made funof.
Notwantingto lose a friend.
Notwantingto hurt someone’sfeelings.
The desire toappear grownup.
The desire toappear incontrol.
Nothavinga clear picture of whattheywant.
Notunderstandinghowtoavoidor handle asituation.
In an attempt to understand why teens are so likely to give into peer pressure, NIDA conducted a
research study on how teens think about both risks and rewards associated with their decisions.
For this study, researchers monitored the brain activity of teen drivers. They found that teens
who were driving with a friend in the car were more likely to take risks, such as running a
yellow light, than those who were driving alone.2
The study also showed teens were much more likely to make risky driving decisions with friends
in the car than adults in the exact same situation. Where adults tend to consider both the risks and
rewards of their behavior, teens tend to focus mostly on the reward while ignoring the risk. This
type of thinking may contribute to peer pressure because teens are more likely to engage in
behavior if they feel rewarded by peer approval or acceptance.2
Parental examples of using
drugs and alcohol can be even
more traumatic than peer
pressure. Parents are role
models, whether or not they
choose to be, and while few
mothers and fathers hand their
children illicit substances,
many make statements and
take actions that insinuate
using drugs is the grown-up
thing to do.
possessing, or taking drugs can
send the message that drugs
and alcohol are okay. Some parents try to hide their stash or use only when their children are not
around. But many times the effect is virtually the same as if they had become high or drunk out
in the open.
On the other hand, drinking is something that isn’t often hidden. A couple of beers or a few
glasses of wine are socially acceptable for adults. And while a few drinks may not cause any
harm to the parent or child, they can send a loud message to the teenager that it is perfectly
normal, peaking a teen’s curiosity.
Kids inevitably find out about the highs of drugs or alcohol and may experiment with them in an
effort to achieve those highs. Teenagers living with parents who use alcohol or drugs may have
direct access to substances kept in the home. If this becomes problematic, seek out help from a
Our society frequently, and sometimes
inadvertently, portrays alcohol consumption and
drug-taking in a positive light. Many movies,
television shows, advertisements, and other
forms of mass media show young people using
and enjoying substances without negative
Popular celebrities, athletes, and other well-
known people, whom teens look up to, also
openly discuss their alcohol and drug use,
which may influence teens to want to try alcohol or drugs as it seems to be normal behavior.
They want to fit in or try it to experience the high for themselves.3
Adolescents and teens are great consumers of television and films. According to research,
adolescents, aged 11 to 18, watch on average more than 20 hours of television each week.
Approximately 70% of television programming has references to alcohol use, although underage
drinking is depicted far less often.4
Still, teens are exposed to alcohol and drug references constantly through television and film. A
study of 1,533 9th-grade students revealed that for every hour increase in television viewing, a
teen was at a 9% greater risk of alcohol consumption over the following 18 months.
Another burgeoning issue concerning teen exposure to drugs and alcohol is social media.
Adolescents and teens are constantly bombarded with information on social media and are easily
exposed to the rewards of using drugs, while not receiving as much information about the risks.
A recent study conducted by NIDA examined a popular pro-cannabis Twitter account.
Researchers found that only 10% of the content shared on this account addressed the risks
associated with marijuana use. Of the account’s many followers, 70% of them were under the
age of 19.5
It is important that those working in teen drug and alcohol use prevention work to spread the
word about the consequences of drug use, such as cognitive impairments, the dangers of driving
under the influence, developing physical dependence and addiction, as well as social and legal
Teens who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction and dependence do not have to suffer alone.
There are several treatment options available, many of which are designed exclusively for
teens and the unique challenges they face. Some of the many treatment options available to
teens facing addiction include: 6
Medicallyassisteddetoxfacilities:Detox centers helpteensslowlytaperoff drugsandhelp
ease the symptomsof withdrawal.
Individual or group counseling:Addressesthe psychological issuesrelatedtoaddiction,aswell
12-step programs: 12-step programsare a form of supportgroup that provide astructuredpath
towardrecoveryinthe form of the 12 steps.There are many12-step groupsdesigned
Inpatientrehabilitation:Inpatienttreatmenttakesplace inaresidential facilityforaperiod
typicallyrangingfrom30 to 90 days—sometimeslongerinmore severecases.Treatmentusually
includessome combinationof detox,counseling,therapy,supportgroups,12-stepprograms,
Outpatientrehabilitation:Outpatienttreatmentusuallyconsistsof the same treatment
modalitiesasinpatientrehabs,excepttreatmenttakesplace onapart-time basiswhilethe
patientcontinuestolive intheirhome,andmaystill workandgo to school duringtreatment.
Dual diagnosis:Dual diagnosisaddressesandtreatsthe addictionitself,aswell asanyco-
Teenrehab: There are manyinpatientandoutpatientrehabilitationcentersthatare designed
exclusivelyforteens.There are also recoveryhighschools where teenscangoto highschool
1. National Institute onDrugAbuse.(2016). DrugFacts:High Schooland Youth Trends.
2. NIDA for Teens:National Institute onDrugAbuse forTeens.(2012). Why DoesPeerPressure
Influence TeenstoTry Drugs?
3. Drug EnforcementAdministration.(2008). Drug Prevention 4 Teens: A Drug AbusePrevention
4. Grube,J.W. (2004). Alcohol inthe Media:DrinkingPortrayals,AlcoholAdvertising,andAlcohol
Consumption AmongYouth. NationalResearch Council(US) and Instituteof Medicine(US)
Committeeon Developing a Strategy to Reduce and PreventUnderageDrinking.Washington,
5. National Institute onDrugAbuse.(2014). Social Media Can InfluenceTeens with Pro-Drug
6. National Institute onDrugAbuse.(2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment:A Research
Based Guide. Evidence-Based Approachesto Drug Addiction Treatment.