Cracking the Mentality Behind Teen Drug Use

By Viktor Petrusevski, Staff Writer

Students filter through the bathroom, conducting their business and making a hasty exit. A cloud of smoke arises from a stall. Instantly, the scene is consumed by a fruity scent. Everyone knows what’s going on, but nobody says a word.

As teens grow older, they encounter both positive and negative influences. Inevitably, one of these influences are drugs. From nicotine to marijuana or even hardcore drugs like heroin, students are taught from a very early age that drug use is dangerous and has legal consequences. However, many go ahead and use them anyway.

Some students turn to drugs simply for satisfaction. They often use the rationale that drugs are fine if used in moderation. “I don’t do drugs on a regular basis,” said a 10th grader. “I only do them from time to time because they make me feel good.”

Social pressures can also play a role in driving drug use. Insecurity resulting from the intense atmosphere of teen life can influence adolescents to use drugs as a way to bond with their peers and become more socially confident. They might feel like outsiders and see drugs as a solution.

When making the decision to use drugs, teens often calculate the potential risks and rewards. A study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that, while being watched by friends, teens are more likely to think about the rewards of risky action. This can skew reasoning in the direction of drug use.

Divorce, puberty, death in the family, or everyday school and home life may lead to emotional and psychological pain. The resulting loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety can push teens towards drugs as they seek to distract themselves from their sorrow.

Some see drugs as a remedy for life’s problems that does not require seeking others’ help. “It’s easier to turn to something that’s right there and that’s easy to use, rather than to talk to someone,” said a 10th grader.  

These factors might explain why, as adults seek to keep students away from drugs, their popularity persists.

“There are too many people that do business with drugs,” said Victor Yerby (12).“It’s America. You can’t avoid it.”