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Officer Pat Shares Facts About Teenage Drug And Alcohol Use

Teen Drug And Alcohol Advice

What are the main reasons teens use alcohol and drugs?

Stress: from school, peers and lack of sleep. Some examples are pressure to excel academically, stress over not fitting in socially and stress from sleep deprivation. Teens need an outlet for their stress. Some teens use drugs and alcohol as that outlet.

What would you like to tell parents about teenage drug and alcohol use?

Illegal substance abuse rises in the summer between 8th and 9th grade, so parents need to pay particular attention. Also, effective communication is critical. Studies show that when parents talk about serious issues, there is a 32% decline in the child becoming involved in that issue. However, make sure to have a conversation, not a lecture. Reaffirm your values but do not be judgmental.

Facts About Teen Drug and Alcohol Use

Tell us more about how sleep correlates with drug usage.

It is a vicious cycle. Teens are attracted to energy drinks. The caffeine helps them get through the day. The caffeine remains in their system and prevents sleep so they take drugs to help them sleep. Teens use one drug to increase alertness and another drug to calm down.

Why is recreational use of prescription drugs popular?

Teens think that because a doctor prescribes the drug to someone, prescription drugs are safer than street drugs. The following survey from the Office of National Drug Control Policy suggests that teens are alarmingly casual about recreational use of prescription drugs:

  • 40% of teens think prescription drugs are safer than street drugs
  • 33% think there’s nothing wrong with taking medication that belongs to a friend or family member
  • 30% think that these drugs are not addictive

Why do teens think that smoking marijuana is no big deal?

I call it defining deviancy down. If society does not see marijuana as an issue, then teens will perceive it as permissible. We have the same problem with alcohol. Teenagers receive strong subliminal messages that alcohol is acceptable. Parents often drink in the home, even expressing the need for a drink after a hard day at the office. Television depicts drinking as a normal part of everyday life, even showing young adults participating, so kids are somewhat desensitized to alcohol. This tolerance translates into permission to use marijuana and alcohol for recreation.

Officer George “Pat” Willis, M.Ed., OCLEO can be reached at

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