Peer Pressure for School Kids to Take Drugs Still Pervasive
Look at a school class photograph and you will see that teens don’t like to be unique. Most of the teens in any group picture will have similar hairstyles, wear similar clothing and even strike similar poses. They’re in the midst of discovering their identity, but until then there’s safety in the herd, which can work for or against your teen.
One of the most pervasive problems in schools across the country is the misuse/abuse of prescription drugs. But just why is this particularly problematic?
- There are more prescription drugs floating around in the general population. In 1990 doctors wrote 90 million prescriptions for controlled drugs, and in 2010 that number bumped up to 250 million. When there is an abundance of drugs in the family medicine chest, it is that much easier for teens to access them.
- There is a misperception by teens that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs.
- There is a mistaken belief that prescription drugs are not as addictive as street drugs.
- There is a pop-culture message that prescription drug abuse is cool.
One mental health expert reminds parents that while it is important to be aware of the availability of drugs and alcohol to teens, the underlying issues in a teen’s life are really the problem.
Vulnerability to peer influence can be a risk factor when there is perceived pressure to take drugs. Emotionally and physically healthy teens with a strong social network are less likely to become involved with drug use.
In order to be alert to any potential underlying issues parents should do the following:
- Talk about substance abuse with your teen. Get the facts and then share them with your teen.
- Know their friends. Peer pressure is one of the leading causes of drug use. Having friends who use drugs makes it more likely that your teen will too.
- Don’t shrug off signs of mental/emotional stress. Many teens who use drugs are actually self-medicating problems like anxiety or depression that typically plague teens. Don’t expect that these problems will go away on their own.
- Eat more meals together at the family table. This can be hard when schedules are hectic, but its importance is hard to overstate in terms of keeping communication lines open between parents and teens. Regular family meals give teens a sense of stability and identity.
- Encourage involvement in extra-curricular activities. Study after study demonstrates that teens who take part in activities are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, including drug use.