Peer pressure plays a large part in the increase of the number of teenagers who have problems with drug abuse and addiction in America. Statistics state that as of the year 2013, approximately 23 percent of students in the 12th grade had used illicit drugs. Additionally, 18 percent of students in the 10th grade and 7 percent of students in the 8th grade were also involved with using drugs. Along with such high drug use statistics, more than 74 percent of teenagers have tried alcohol, and more than 3 million teenagers smoke tobacco cigarettes. A large portion of these statistics came about because of peer pressure.
What is Peer Pressure?
A simple definition of peer pressure is the forceful efforts of one peer or a peer group to involve another member in detrimental actions. The actions may involve drug use, smoking, sex, alcohol consumption, or criminal activity. High school children have very sensitive psyches, and they seek approval during this impressionable stage. High school friends and loved ones may coerce one of their peers into doing something that he or she may not believe is correct or acceptable. Vulnerable students will sometimes partake in the activities so they can avoid rejection from the people who are pressuring them. The following are types of peer pressure that a younger person may have to endure:
- Gossiping about the person
- Threatening to break up with the person
- Threatening to oust the person from the social group
- Ignoring the person
- Removing special privileges
A teenager who has to face this treatment from friends or loved ones may not be strong enough to fight the urge. If the person does not have a strong support system, he or she may submit to peer pressure. Unfortunately, this situation can lead to initial drug or alcohol use that eventually develops into drug abuse or addiction.
What is Drug Abuse?
Drug abuse is the usage of an illegal or prescribed substance in excessive amounts. In the case of prescribed drugs, using them for any reason other than to cure an illness or ailment is abuse. A young person may initially try prescription pills or marijuana because someone in high school pressured him or her. The pressure may have occurred during school hours or at a party. If the teen’s close friends persuaded him or her to take drugs, the group has developed a ritual of using the drugs during hangouts or study sessions. When a person reaches the stage of performing rituals that involve ingesting drugs, he or she has developed a habit. The term for the habit is drug abuse. Some of the most common symptoms of drug abuse are as follows:
- Slipping grades
- Poor performance in sports
- Strained relationships
- Risky behaviors
- Rebellious conduct
Another sign that parents can look for when they suspect their child is involved with drugs is unexplained absence. Many teenagers who are involved with drugs will disappear for hours and not have an explanation as to where they were.
Drug addiction is the stage that occurs after continuous drug abuse. The person who was using drugs for recreation becomes physically, emotionally, and mentally dependent on the substance. An addicted person will suffer painful and annoying withdrawal symptoms any time he or she does not have the drug of choice in his or her system. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, irritability, depression, muscle aches, muscle spasms, paranoia, restless leg syndrome, and more.
An addicted person might also show physical signs of addiction such as a decrease in hygiene and personal upkeep. The individual may start wearing the same clothes several days in a row, fail to brush his or her teeth, or have slurred speech. He or she may also have sleeping problems and weight variances.
The addicted person will most likely display behavioral signs of addiction. Belligerence is very common in people who are addicted to drugs. Lying, stealing, and manipulating are also the ways of a drug abuser. If you have a child who is in this stage of the addiction cycle, it is your duty as a parent to act now and try to restore your child’s youth and life.
How to Handle Peer Pressure and Drug Abuse and Addiction
The first step in handling peer pressure and drug addiction is trying to speak with the child. Teenagers who become involved with drugs due to peer pressure are usually embarrassed. They feel bullied and ashamed that they have allowed their peers to dictate their actions. Many of them feel as though they have let their parents down, and they do not want to disclose either problem.
When approaching your teen about drug abuse and drug addiction, you must be understanding, open, and supportive. Expressing your love for your teen is extremely important. Withdrawal and defensiveness are not the reactions that you want to evoke. Therefore, you must handle the confrontation with gentle words and a supportive demeanor. Some teens will come clean about peer pressure and drug abuse and addictions. Others will deny the problem and become angry that you suspect addiction.
Benefits of Inpatient Rehabilitation Centers
Rehabilitation centers are organizations that can help a misguided teen find a way back to life. They can offer a wide range of services that seek to purify the teen’s mind, body, and soul. The benefit of admitting your child into one of these facilities is that the center will immediately remove the teen from the source of the trouble. Your addicted teen will not be around drugs or any peers who instigated the addiction’s progress. Therefore, the healing starts the moment the teen steps into the program.
Another benefit of an inpatient rehabilitation program is that it has a combination of elements that your teen will need to get better. The teen will have access to like-minded residents, supportive staff members, and a positive and inspirational environment.
Unfortunately, a percentage of teens who have suffered peer pressure and drug addiction will not accept an invitation to enter a rehabilitation facility. In this case, you may have to schedule an intervention, which is a meeting of the person’s nearest and dearest friends and family members. These members will meet and try to persuade the teen to seek help using various methods. A specialist can teach you to handle it the proper way.
If you suspect that your teen has been pressured into using drugs or alcohol, then you must take steps to get him or her back on track today. Call a rehabilitation facility and schedule a meeting immediately.
- Drug Abuse & Addiction Signs, Symptoms, and Help for Drug Problems and Substance Abuse http://www.helpguide.org/mental/drug_substance_abuse_addiction_signs_effects_treatment.htm
- DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends