Causes of Teenage Drug Addiction

Jenifer has always been a self-absorbed and difficult child; all her classmates new that she had some problems with her parents. She did not have many friends at school and did not show much interest in her studies. When her academic performance began to decline, nobody was surprised about it. However, everybody was shocked when Jenifer was hospitalized after one of her parties because of a heroin overdose. Later it was known that she had been using drugs for several months and had become drug-addicted. Neither her parents nor teachers noticed the alarming signals. Fortunately, the doctors managed to save her life and Jenifer began anti-drug therapy. After a long time of struggling, she finally overcame her addiction and now she says she is the happiest person in the world, but still sees the period of her drug abuse in nightmares.

Jenifer is not the only example of teen drug abuse. According to the 2012 Annual Report of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “approximately 40 million Americans age 12 and over meet the medical criteria for addiction involving just nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. That’s more than the number of people with heart conditions (27 million), diabetes (26 million) or cancer (19 million)” (2012 Annual Report). This data shows that substance abuse is a problem which should not be ignored. The biggest problem is that among all age groups, teens are the most vulnerable to drug addiction. There are several reasons which explain this phenomenon.

Nowadays teens face many more problems and stress than their contemporaries just a few generations ago. Increased fast living sometimes leads to lack of parental control and supervision, and this is probably one of the main reasons why teens start using drugs. According to Steve Thompson, “children and teenagers who are left alone for long periods of time or who are allowed to come and go as they please will have more opportunities for exposure to drugs”(Thompson). Yet, this problem can be solved by the parents themselves, through higher involvement in their children’s lives and building trustful relations between teenagers and parents.

Another serious reason for drug abuse is the influence of other people – either peers or the media. Teenagers tend to gather among themselves and in order to fit in they may start using drugs because they believe it to be “cool”. Dr. Neil I. Bernstein, in his book How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do if You Can’t, points out the influence of others and popular media as two reasons teenagers abuse drugs (Bernstein, 2001).

Among other causes of teenage drug abuse, one should name misinformation (stereotypes), escape and self-medication, simple boredom and curiosity, rebellion against parents or society, lack of confidence or self-esteem, and availability of drugs.

All these problems should be addressed by parents, teachers or social workers. Those young people who have conflicts with their parents, are not very sociable, or are constantly exposed to bad influences are most likely to start using alcohol or other substances. It is better to eliminate the number of TV programs or other media which are most likely to glorify drug use and to reduce communication with young people who are addicted to drugs.

Drug abuse is a serious issue which affects a person’s health and relations, as well as society as a whole. In order to solve this problem, it is vital to know the possible causes of drug addiction and ways to avoid them. It is always better to prevent drug addiction than to cure a teenager of it. Yet, without relevant information on the causes, drug treatment would not be successful enough.


Bernstein, N. I. (2001). How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You
Can’t. New York: Workman Publishing Company.

Park, A. (2011, June 29). Teens and Drugs: Rive for Passage or Recipe for Addiction.
Retrieved from
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. 2012
Annual Report. Retrieved from
Thompson, S. (n.d.). Understanding the Causes of Teen Drug Abuse. Retrieved from

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