Kids are usually motivated to experiment with drugs by curiosity and the need to fit in. They want to try what their friends are trying, and they have a great need to belong. Some kids experiment because they are seeking relief from anxiety or emotional pain. In essence they are self-medicating or using drugs or alcohol to cope with the stresses they are feeling. For instance, many kids use marijuana to reduce their anxiety, but medical studies show that the prolonged use of the drug has the opposite effect, leading to heightened anxiety, depression, nervousness, mental disorders, paranoia and panic attacks. While some parents diminish the seriousness of use of marijuana, they should pay attention to what the National Institute on Drug Abuse says are the effects of its prolonged use. They report it can cause, “…impaired attention, memory problems, diminished learning capacity, interference with the formation of memories and the ability to retain knowledge, a general apathy toward life events, poor coordination, diminished interpersonal skills, and poor judgment.” Sadly, other kids experiment with drugs to tempt their fate. Teens with more serious emotional and psychological problems turn to dangerous concoctions or massive doses of drugs as a form of “Russian Roulette.” They reason, “If I die, then so be it.” Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a message from a parent or grandparent, heartbroken that their teen overdosed and died.
When adolescent boys and girls are at-risk with substance abuse, or behavioral issues, behavior modification programs, as well as cognitive therapy, can result in the positive changes he or she needs for a long lasting transformation.