In your module notes this week we examined material on teen drug use. As we have discovered, teen attitudes about many things are changing in today’s society. In additional to that material, below are some additional videos of teens speaking from their own perspective.
Let’s take a look at some recent cases of teen drug abuse:
- Alcoholism and drug abuse in teenagers-Megan Hanley-TEDxBarringtonHighSchool (Links to an external site.)
- The life of an adolescent battling drug addiction (Links to an external site.)
- Story time-Overcoming my addiction to marijuana (Links to an external site.)(This video contains language that may not be suitable.)
After viewing the above videos, apply concepts from your text and readings that may help to explain the teens’ attitudes and willingness to use and abuse drugs.
- What cognitive factors explain the teens’ attitudes about drugs?
- What socioemotional factors explain the teens’ attitudes about drugs?
- Explain how these factors may play a role in teen addiction.
- If a parent of a teen came to you for advice about drug education, what would you tell them?
The general attitude about drugs has definitely changed for today’s teens in comparison to past generations. Cognitively, the teen years are full of anxiety and depression for many people. That has not changed. Teens deal with changing expectations as they figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. The huge decisions that come up put a lot of pressure on people, and anxiety over those decisions is very common. Additionally, teens experience depression over their future, especially when their dreams do not line up with those of their parents. What has changed is the way that teens deal with anxiety and depression. Some of the currently older generations grew up around cigarettes. They were believed to be perfectly healthy, and as a consequence, it was common for teens to smoke them. That is what is happening today with marijuana. It is not new, but it is becoming more widespread and legal. According to rates of teen drug use, “legal marijuana appears to have reduced the perceived risks of using the drug and lowered one’s disapproval of its use” (Kraynok, et. al., 2017. p. 345). When an intoxicating substance is more accessible and less risky (in terms of the law), such as alcohol, teens are more likely to use it. All of this makes teens have a more relaxed attitude towards drugs, particularly marijuana, as they view it as a tool/activity at their disposal.
Attitudes such as this lead teens to trying drugs and once someone tries a drug, it is very easy to get addicted. Once someone’s brain becomes dependent on something, whether it is food, alcohol, or drugs, they are addicted to it. They rely on it to get through their day and will go through withdrawal symptoms without it. Because of this, it is best to educate teens before they get involved with drugs. Addiction can be helped, but preventing the usage is a parent’s best bet. This is not to say that parents should simply tell their teens to never go near drugs. As a society we have seen that this does not work in terms of promoting abstinence to prevent teen pregnancy. Teens need education more than they need absolute instructions. If a parent came to me for advice about educating their teen, I would tell them to watch videos with their child about real life stories of teen drug use. People at this developmental stage respond best to other people their age, people they can relate to, rather than their authority figures. If they can hear a cautionary tale directly from the source, it might resonate with them enough for them to question using drugs. Additionally, I would tell that parent to be open to questions from their teen. Clear communication between parents and children can make a huge difference.
What cognitive factors explain the teens’ attitudes about drugs?
There are many cognitive factors that may influence a teen into doing drugs. Environmental factors, family, stress and depression. Drugs may be used as a way for teens to cope with their reality. Teenagers are going through changes in their life and often have difficulty adapting to them. Drugs are a common solution to many teenagers considering 90% of drug addiction starts at an early age.
What socioemotional factors explain the teens’ attitudes about drugs?
I believe common socioemotional factors are peer relationships, bullying, cyber bullying and the influence from gangs. The development of technology and social media platforms has made it easier for one teenager to bully another. This has led to more teenage stress and possible drug usage.
During my teen years I ended up drinking and smoking marijuana quite often. I would have to say that many other students were doing the same and unfortunately are still doing the same today. It is easy to fall into the life but difficult to get out of it.
Explain how these factors may play a role in teen addiction.
A teenager makes decisions based off the environments that surround him or her. A teenager that has family problems, an absent parent or difficulty making friends unfortunately is likely to develop some type of an addiction. Drugs and substances can feel as an escape from reality and make teenagers want to keep doing them.
If a parent of a teen came to you for advice about drug education, what would you tell them?
It is surprising to me that 90% of people who suffer with drug addiction started using them at an early age. The root to the issue starts at an early age so we as parents must pay attention to this matter. I am a father of two, soon to be three and do not want any of my children to fall into this statistic. My advice would be to simply learn about drug education and how it can impact your future. I would also like to share my experience with drugs at an early age and describe how it affected my behaviors. I had to stay clean and join the service to separate myself from that life. I would also implement an “open door policy” in my home. I would want my child to let me know about anything that is going on in their life so I can try to help them in any way possible. I believe good communication can be the key to a successful and drug free future.
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