There are many misconceptions about teen drug use that prevent teens and parents alike from getting the accurate information they need to address this issue realistically and safely. Here are just a few myths surrounding drug abuse among teens that can prove downright deadly if believed.
- "Drug use is just a phase for teens."
While it’s true that some teens will experiment with drugs and go on to reject them, it’s never a guarantee. According to statistics from National Institute on Drug Abuse, most adults who regularly use marijuana began smoking before they were 18 and almost 50% of adolescents who begin drinking before age 15 go on to be alcoholics.
- "Prescription drug use is not as dangerous as using illegal substances."
Many teens think that since prescription drugs are prescribed by a doctor, using them recreationally is safer than using illegal substances such as marijuana or cocaine. However, using medication in ways not recommended by a doctor is just as illegal as using street drugs, and many come with risks equally dangerous as illicit substances.
- "Drug use is not a big problem among teens."
While it’s true that about 80% of teens will reject drug use, that doesn’t mean the temptation isn’t around every corner. Approximately one quarter of all young people will be offered drugs or alcohol at some point during adolescence, and the risk increases with age—40% of high school seniors report being offered illicit substances.
- "Marijuana use is not as bad as taking other drugs."
There’s no doubt that there are substances much worse than marijuana that teens could be using, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not without its own risks. In addition to creating decision-making and concentration problems, marijuana is particularly problematic for teens because it can interfere with normal brain development.
According to a study released by Northwestern University, heavy marijuana use during adolescence can decrease neuron volume and cause areas of the brain associated with memory to form abnormally. These changes in brain structure can cause memory problems to persist long after marijuana use is stopped.
- "It’s not drug abuse if you’re using them for a good reason."
Teens are increasingly turning to prescription stimulants to help improve their performance in school, sports, and other activities. Many teens who use these drugs don’t feel like they’re abusing them because they serve such a utilitarian purpose. However, regardless of the intent behind drug use, these substances are still addictive and potentially dangerous.