Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #12)

Experimentation with illicit drugs during adolescence is common. Unfortunately, teenagers often fail to see the link between their actions today and the consequences tomorrow. Teenagers often feel indestructible and immune to the negative implications of drug use, such as addiction.

Teenagers abuse a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. The most commonly used illicit drug among youth in the U.S. is marijuana. As many as 20% of teenagers report using marijuana, and 38.4% report having tried it at least once. Marijuana use is linked to poorer grades. A teen with a “D” average is four times more likely to have used marijuana than a teen with an “A” average. Further, marijuana users are twice as likely to drop out of school than non-users. Cocaine, another illicit drug, is used at least once by 3% of youth.

Some adolescents may experiment with drugs and stop. Others may continue to use occasionally without problems. Some adolescents will develop a dependency, move on to more dangerous drugs, and cause themselves significant harm.

Some ideas you can tell adolescents to reduce drug use include:

  • Removing yourself from situations where drugs may be involved
  • Check in with a friend who is supportive of you not using drugs when you feel the urge to use them
  • Try exercising, listening to music, hanging with friends, or watching a movie to relax or feel good
  • You can always use an excuse to say no. Say things like, “I can’t, I have to go to work soon”, “I already got in huge trouble once for using drugs, I don’t want to deal with that again”, or “I will get kicked off the team if I don’t get it together!”