Teens take drugs primarily because we live in a drug friendly culture. Everyone, from athletes taking steroids, to children over-prescribed for behavioral disorders, takes lots and lots of drugs, at least in the USA. If parents think back to the drugs they took as children, you will see there are two reasons to turn to drugs, number one is self-medicating, (and in this case alcohol, and most every prescription and non prescription drug falls into this bag of dope), and the number two reason kids take drugs is peer pressure. You will also find that number one and number two reasons overlap. One teen will have been taking something for mood, or energy, or diet, (self medicating) and will advise others to try it as well, which is peer pressure.
Many, many drugs are pushed intensely on television, and we should not expect children to think it is not hypocritical to need drugs. That everyone is on something, is not a just say NO to drugs policy. As with every behavior, both positive and negative, children will do what they see others do. Role models who resist the lure of every kind of drug, both recreational, relax-ational, and medicational are always the best role models for kids.
Why are we such a pro-drug nation in the US? It is because giant pharmaceutical corporations make billions upon billions of dollars, and they do not have to pay the costs of people becoming dependent upon them. Quite the contrary, they actually continue to profit from people becoming dependent.
Think about sleep medications, or prescriptions for everything from erectile dysfunction to growing sexier eye lashes. There is a pill, or cream, or patch for almost anything you can think of from a person’s scalp right down to the colonizers in our toes. It is little wonder that children do not take more drugs then they do!
As for recreational drugs, they are an easy answer, and touted by others, as a great way to cope, function, excel, or even just survive despair. Meth is cheap and easy to make and obtain, and it is popular because teens do not think in long term planning methodology.
Other highly addictive drugs are an easy answer for low esteem issues, even with adults. In the debate about steroids and other illegal street drugs, as many people will advocate by their willingness to take them, as will rail against them.
Because our society norm is to live alienated lives and live in un-natural environments, there are many people who require anti-depressants. If they do not require anti-depressants, it is often found they have discovered ways to increase natural serotonin and other brain hormones through natural exercise, staying very active and engaged with rewarding and appreciated activities or outdoor work, or spending time in enriching environments that are non-judgmental and beautiful, such as a National Park, or a local lake or river green expanse.
We evolved in nature and artificial confinement, traffic, noise, stress, and little contact with where our sustenance (food, water, animals) comes from makes us feel we are not sustained, or supported.
Children and teens who turn to alcohol or drugs for recreational purposes, are in effect looking for the same kind of connection, and belonging that all humans, and indeed all living things, need. This consists of supportive, appreciated and appreciating surroundings. One of the best things to do with a teen who is vulnerable to drugs, and most of them are, is to teach them you are there for them and you will spend connecting and non-alienating, supportive time with them. We all seek to belong, and in the modern world, we have neglected ourselves to the point that we expect endless vitality from life and from nature without giving anything back. Only when we realize we share atoms, DNA, bacteria, flora and fauna, minerals and more, all the way from our cell to the stars, we will necessarily need drugs to cope. When we all need drugs, our kids will need them too.