Parenting Teens: Why Do People Try Drugs?
If you're like many parents, you spent your kid's early years preaching against drug use. And while many young children are willing to accept the knowledge that "drugs are bad," older kids may have questions about why anyone would use drugs if they're so awful. This question can be a difficult one to answer without making drug use seem attractive—especially if you have a history of recreational drug use yourself.
So what do you say? Though you may not want to hear it, honesty (tempered with a little common sense) is generally the best policy.
Here are some of the most satisfying answers to that tough question—and the reasoning behind the answers:
To feel good: The problem? Drugs don't care what the reason is. The same effects can occur no matter why you choose to use them.
To change the user's situation: The problem? It isn't real. You haven't changed your situation; you've just distorted it for a little while.
To fit in: No one wants to be the only one not participating. No one wants to be left out. So sometimes even smart people make bad decisions, like taking drugs, to cover up their insecurities. They don't think about how drugs can isolate you from your friends and family. They forget to look past that one party to see how things could turn out. Or maybe they just don't see the people around them who aren't using drugs.
To escape or relax: You'll hear a lot of people saying things like, "I'm so stressed; I need to get messed up!" or, "Drugs help me relax" or whatever. What they're really saying is, "Drinking or doing drugs is just easier than dealing with my problems or reaching out for help." The thing is, the problems are still there when they come down—and not only do they still have to deal with their problems, but they also have to deal with them when they're not at 100 percent and they're feeling guilty or, even worse, when they're not thinking straight
To prevent boredom: Lots of people turn to drugs for a little excitement because they say there's nothing else to do but watch the same Simpsons rerun for the 10th time or hang out at the Burger King. But people who make these kinds of decisions usually find out that drugs are ultimately really a waste and painful. Drugs don't change the situation, and they just might make it worse.
To be like a movie star: Even though there's an anti-drug ad on every minute and more rock stars and ball players than you can shake a stick at tell you to stay away from drugs, the truth is the entertainment world still manages to make drugs appear very attractive. Explain to your child that the entertainment world is not the real world and basing your life on these messages is superficial. Use celebrity news about drug use or rehab as teachable moments to remind your kid of the downside of drug use
To feel grown-up: This is one of the weirdest reasons. Think about it: Why would an adult want to use drugs? Probably for many of the same reasons you would consider. The reality is that the most grownup people out there aren't users. They're too busy living their lives to bother with stuff, like drugs, that will interfere.
To rebel: Sometimes people turn to drugs not so much for themselves but to make a statement against someone else, such as their families or society in general. Somehow taking drugs makes them outlaws or more individual. The problem is taking drugs, ultimately, robs these people of their ability to be independent, because it makes them dependent—on drugs and their drug connections.
To experiment: It's human nature to want to experiment. Trying things out helps you decide if they're right for you. But it's also human nature to avoid things that are obviously bad for you. You wouldn't experiment with jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. The point is, there are a zillion better things to experiment with—sports, music, dying your hair, seeing bad movies, or even eating spicy food.