Causes of Substance Abuse in Teenagers

Statistics have proven that there are two primary factors for teenage drug abuse: genetics and environment. For most teens, drugs do make up the landscape of their adolescent and teenage years. There is not one single cause of teenage substance abuse but rather a medley of causes.

Know What Your Kids are Doing

Teens who do not have much accountability to their parents in regards to what they are doing and who with, are at a higher risk for developing substance abuse problems. These kids tend to lack parental supervision and have excess idle time on their hands so it is easier for them to get involved with drugs.

Clear Communication

Teens that lack in communication with their parents and do not really interact with them are also at a higher risk for using drugs than their peers. One key area of communication should be clear and concise expectations about drug use. When this is communicated poorly or sometimes not at all, a teen’s odds of becoming a substance abuser literally soar.


Teens that hang around with other teens that use drugs are at a very increased chance of doing so themselves. The opportunities to use drugs are greater and the pressure to use can break even the most focused teenager. In addition, the availability to access drugs is much greater.

Trouble at Home

Teens that are experiencing problems on the home front are also in jeopardy of abusing drugs. This includes teens that are suffering from severe, inconsistent, or excessive discipline, family conflict, or abuse of any kind are more likely to act out and reach for drugs as a crutch to escape.


Teens that have parents that are very accepting of underage drinking or recreational drug use are also at an elevated risk of abusing drugs. This also includes the teens that grew up in an environment where substance abuse was present.

Genetic Factors

Environmental causes affect the likelihood of teen drug abuse but there are other causes as well. Teens that have a father, mother, grandparent, etc. that are drug addicts or alcoholics are at the highest risk of substance abuse, or even worse, addiction.

It is impossible to ignore the genetic wiring of the human brain. Addiction within the family not only increases a teen’s chance of using drugs, it significantly does. When this happens, teens that are not taught early on about addiction and substance abuse are in real danger.

Thrill Seekers

Some teens have danger seeking personalities and these teens are very likely to start abusing drugs at some point. This includes teens that are impulsive, thrill seekers, psychologically distraught, and loners. These kids display symptoms that are indicative of substance abusers.

Inability to Cope

Teens that are unable to deal with stress are likely to use drugs to cope. This stress often comes from a lack of social acceptance or low self-esteem. These teens are at a higher risk because they may end up engaging in drug abuse just to fit in and gain social acceptance.

Anxiety & Depression

Today’s teens are plagued with anxiety and depression and drugs serves as a way to self-medicate. These kids have no learned how to otherwise vent their frustration and it can take an emotional toll. The bigger problem is that many times these emotional problems with teens go undiagnosed.

Lack Information

Unfortunately, there are many teens that lack the knowledge of the real danger involved in using drugs. This is especially true in regards to prescription and over-the-counter drugs and also synthetic drugs. In fact, most misinformed teens believe that it is safer to abuse prescription drugs than illicit ones, which is highly not the case.


Some teens will just start using drugs because they are bored. Boredom can create an internal void and drugs fill this gap. For some teens, marijuana or other drugs can give them something to do and it eliminates the boredom. In time, this can become a good excuse that only tricks the mind.

Early Education

While there are numerous causes for a teen to start abusing drugs, the primary goal should be to expand on early education. This way, parents are certain, beyond a doubt, that their kids understand fully the dangers and implications of using or abusing drugs.

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