How Drug Use Affects a Teen's Life

Instructor: Emily Cummins
In this lesson, we'll look at some of the consequences of teen drug use. We'll look at how the use of drugs impacts teens' relationships, academic performance, and development.

Teens and Drug Use

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that a large number of adolescents use drugs regularly. This includes marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco, among other types of substances. Many teenagers also experiment with illegal drugs, including prescription opiates and other controlled substances.

Drugs can have a very negative impact on a teen
drugs; teen drug use

Using drugs creates problems for everyone, but it can be particularly problematic in young people. In particular, young people are more susceptible to the damaging effects of drug use. Let's talk about some consequences of teens using drugs.

Academic Consequences

Matt is a bright, young high-school athlete who gets good grades and gets along well with his parents and his peers. He begins hanging out with a crowd that isn't as studious, however. In fact, a number of these teens smoke marijuana and drink alcohol on a regular basis.

Matt begins to engage in these behaviors with his new friends, and he finds that his grades begin to drop. Once a star in his classes, he now ranks in the bottom on tests and grades. He also finds himself on probation with his basketball team for missing practices.

Studies have shown that teenage drug use has negative consequences on academic performance. Teens who use drugs have lower grades, test scores, and worse attendance in school.

Matt's worsened academic performance is likely a result of his increased use of drugs. Where before he spent his time studying or going to practice, he's now engaging in behaviors that are impacting his scholastic life.

Mental & Physical Consequences

In addition to troubles in school, teens who use drugs can also experience mental and physical problems. For instance, Mary began high school as a carefree, fun-loving teenager. She was generally happy and upbeat with a positive outlook. However, Mary sometimes found herself feeling a bit down. She began using drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of school and occasional feelings of sadness.

After a while, Mary found that she was using drugs almost daily and her mood worsened considerably. She found that she was withdrawn and sad much of the time, uninterested in friends and school work and other activities that used to make her happy.

Mary's situation is likely due to the fact that drug use has a relationship to mental illness. Psychologists and others who study this have found that people with a mental illness, like depression, are more likely to use drugs.

Some research finds that a person who starts using drugs early in life might be more likely to develop a mental illness later on. Moreover, it is thought that drug use leads to increased thoughts of suicide or suicide itself. There are a few reasons for this. Drugs can interfere with brain chemistry, which could lead to suicidal thoughts.

Also, it may be the case that teens who are depressed are using drugs in an effort to manage this mental illness. Depression and suicide are clearly linked, and drug use can be an outcome of this condition.

Withdraw from drugs might also be related to thoughts of suicide. Dependence on drugs interferes with the brain's biological processes and can increase thoughts of hopelessness.

Aside from mental and emotional problems, alcohol and drug use can also increase the likelihood of physical harm. Substance abuse is related to increased risk of car accidents. In fact, the CDC reports that about 22% of high school students reported being in a car with an impaired driver. This risky behavior is often influenced by substance abuse.

Drug Use & Relationships

Interpersonal relationships often suffer when teens engage in drug use. It's one thing to be a moody teenager who doesn't get along with parents. But using drugs can put a serious strain on family relationships. Trust is often broken when teens engage in this kind of behavior and conflict can increase within families.

Drug use also leads to lowered inhibitions, which can lead to poor choices. Engaging in drug use might lead to risky sexual behavior. This can result in unplanned pregnancy and increases adolescents' risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections.

Alcohol and other drugs also play a role in sexual violence. Being under the influence can put teens in situations where consent is not given and can lead to situations where a person is taken advantage of. Drug use is also linked to increased violence in interpersonal relationships.

Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

Given all of this, why do young people use drugs? People often use drugs to feel better. Because the initial use of a drug can lead to feelings of euphoria, people tend to continue using drugs even when it begins to cause problems.

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