Substance Abuse and Risky Behaviors

When it comes to teen drug addiction, there are many dangers associated with substance abuse and risky behaviors you can watch out for to prevent that from happening to your teen. Substance abuse is a world wide problem. Knowing which risky behaviors to watch for is important.

Substance abuse is known to have particularly devastating effects on teens and adolescence because so many teens are experiencing peer pressure and being exposed to illegal substances at such an early age. Now, more than ever, it is parents' responsibilities to prevent their child from being exposed to the dangers of substance abuse and to know which risky behaviors to look for in order to teach your teen about the dangers of drugs and other illegal substances for teens. 

Substance abuse

Substance abuse occurs when an individual becomes addicted or dependent on chemical-based substances. This can happen with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Cigarettes and alcohol are found to be two of the top substances abused by teens. Accidents and incidents related to alcohol and tobacco use are also responsible for more deaths than all of the other drugs combined among teens. About one in five teens smoke on a daily basis, and nearly 30 percent of teens engage in binge drinking regularly. Substance abuse does among teens does more than just cause teens to engage in other risky behaviors like hard core drugs, violence, unprotected sex and more. Substance abuse also causes other issues of mental illness among teens. Many teens who engage in substance abuse do so because of emotional issues like depression, anxiety, stress and other factors. Instead of seeking healthy treatment, teens will choose to abuse substances like  underage drinking, smoking and more. If left untreated, these mental illnesses are often made worse by substance abuse and can lead to cases of self mutilation, cutting and suicide among teens. It is important to target these risky behaviors before they are taken too far. 

Risky behaviors

  • Drug use: Many parents and teens understand drugs like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana to be considered "gateway drugs," which pave the way to other substance abuse of more hard core and addictive drugs like meth, heroin, cocaine and prescription drug abuse. Once teens are under the influence of these kinds of drugs, it only can lead to even riskier behaviors, severe mental illness, dropping out of school and violent actions. 
  • Sexual activity. Many teens who experience substance abuse with underage drinking or drug use are more likely to let their judgment become impaired, which can lead to cases of unprotected sex. Such risky behaviors among teens like unprotected sex can lead to cases of unintended teen pregnancy as well as transmission of sexually transmitted infections like HIV, AIDS, Chlamydia, gonorrhea and more. About 20 percent of all AIDS cases were likely contracted during or just after high school in the United States. This is just one of the reasons teens need to understand the extended risks of substance abuse. 
  • Violence: Many teens who engage in the use of drugs and alcohol often experience violent behaviors or tendencies. There are increasing numbers of teens who are joining gangs or bullying. Alcohol and violence can play a major role in this risk factor for substance abuse. It is important to catch this risky behavior of substance abuse early on before it gets out of control with your teen.


One of the best ways substances abuse prevention research has found to stop teens from engaging in risky behaviors and substance abuse is to employ the social influence model. While some teens may listen to what their parents have to say about keeping away from drugs, alcohol and other risky behaviors, the majority of teens and youth tend to listen more to their peers. They are overall more influenced by the actions and directions set forth by their friends. When prevention efforts are targeted toward teens, they encourage the youth to learn to say no to one another when faced with the temptation of drug abuse or underage drinking and other forms of substance abuse. 

However parents still need to talk to their children. It is not a good idea or practice for parents to assume the educational system will teach their child about the dangers of drugs and substance abuse. Many times, that education comes to children too late. By then, many of their peers may already be smoking or engaging in other risky behaviors. Talk to them as soon as they become curious. If you do not inform them, they will seek information about drugs in a less healthy or safe environment. 


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