Teens try to fit in with others to be socially accepted and social media plays a huge role in how teens perceive other peers as well as themselves. Teens look for acceptance and getting a large number of “likes” or comments on social media can inflate egos and falsely make someone think they are popular. A teen can feel pressured by peers to use alcohol or drugs. Nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana are known as gateway drugs because using them can lead to using more-potent ones. Many people believe marijuana is a safe drug with little to no withdrawal symptoms. Marijuana use puts a person at higher risk of turning to more intense, powerful drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, or painkillers. Marijuana use significantly affects young, developing brains. Continued use puts a teen at risk of developing serious mental and physical health problems and addiction. Teens can also turn to substances to self-medicate from stress and co-occurring mental health issues. Teens are impulsive and being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to risky, destructive, and deadly behavior. Drugs and alcohol have devastating effects on a teen’s physical, mental, and psychological health. Some people who smoke cigarettes or other forms of nicotine in adulthood started using in adolescence. Nicotine use develops into a habit and quickly turns into an addiction. Quitting nicotine is very challenging. An alternative to smoking cigarettes is vaping, which is gaining popularity among teens and young adults. Vaping liquids contain less chemicals but still include nicotine, the addictive substance found in most tobacco products. Teens also use e-cigarettes and JUULs, which are battery-operated devices that look like USB drives that plug into laptops, computers, and chargers. These devices are filled with a liquid containing nicotine, that heats up and vaporizes. The person using the device inhales the vapor, and unknowingly inhales hazardous chemicals from the product as it heats up. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence states, “Addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will.” Marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine are all addictive substances that can lead to hard-core drug use with substances that are more potent. If your teen is battling a substance use disorder or addiction, get help now.
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