High school is a time in which nearly every person experiences anxiety, whether it’s caused by the overwhelming amount of homework, or the ever-changing circle of friends. When a teenager is under stress whilst facing the typical anxieties surrounding fitting in, it is easy to fall victim to peer pressure, and ultimately develop an emotional dependency on drugs and alcohol.
Not only do these actions result in significant damage to the health of teenagers with developing bodies, but the psychological harm that teens undergo proves to be major in the effects of substance abuse.
Having witnessed this behaviour in my own home and at school, drug and alcohol abuse appears to be prevalent in teenagers who lack the proper support system at home or within their social circles to confront and work through their emotions. In addition, those struggling with self-image, bullying, family problems, and even the pressure of succeeding in school are more prone to escape these anxious feelings with what seems to be the easiest solution.
Although typically teen addicts may feel that drugs provide relief from stress, relying on a substance for any form of satisfaction only drives a person down a dark path. I have seen first-hand the effects that drugs and alcohol have on teens, such as strained relationships with family and friends, and losing touch of themselves and what truly brings them joy outside of their addiction.
The topic of drug abuse in adolescence is often wrongfully stigmatized. I find that those who refrain from smoking or drinking, or adults and family will judge others who use without empathizing with them and realizing that they are going through something. Those who simply want help for teen addicts overlook why one might be seeking to escape their reality in the first place. Within my school environment, it is difficult for adults and for some students to understand a teen who is reliant on drugs, and the aggressive and judgmental approach taken by parents and schools only widens the void between teen users and non-users. With the difficulty to understand each other, a teen addict is pushed further into self-isolation, ultimately worsening their addictive behaviour. What must be brought to light is how school staff, parents, and peers confront teen addiction, and ways in which both sides can be made to feel understood. Although every situation may be different, teen substance abuse stems from the inability of a teen to have the resources to properly digest and control their anxiety, making it a priority that parents and schools offer psychological help rather than judgment and punishment when confronting a potential addict.