The teen years are often considered the most difficult period of a person\u2019s life. After all, how often do you hear anyone over the age of 30 wistfully say, \u201cOh, to be 15 again\u2026\u201d? Probably never. It\u2019s a vulnerable time of life as teens attempt to navigate the precarious bridge between childhood and adulthood. And one of the most challenging decisions, for an age group that\u2019s ill-prepared to make difficult choices, is whether to start using alcohol or drugs. There are a number of reasons teens abuse alcohol or drugs. On the one hand, adolescence is a time of self-exploration. One could argue that it\u2019s perfectly natural and normal to want to try new things, such as getting high or drunk for the first time. However, others would argue \u2013 and wisely so \u2013 that adolescents, by virtue of their young age and lack of life experience, aren\u2019t prepared for the consequences that often follow. Regardless of which side of the argument you find yourself, most teens will experiment with alcohol and \/ or drugs at some point \u2013 for many different reasons. Following are some of the most common reasons for substance abuse problems: Peer pressure Peer pressure is a powerful force at any stage of life, but it\u2019s especially influential during adolescence. At a time when kids are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in \u2013when insecurities can be fierce \u2013 the desire to be accepted and liked makes saying \u201cno\u201d extremely difficult. Saying no can also have painful consequences, ranging from being laughed at or mildly teased, to being humiliated, rejected, and even bullied. Peer pressure often comes as the devil in sheep\u2019s clothing. The \u201ccool kid\u201d who says, \u201cHey, it\u2019s just weed\u201d or \u201cit\u2019s my dad\u2019s prescription, so of course it\u2019s safe!\u201d Or the popular girl who\u2019s hosting a party while her parents are out of town, encouraging everyone to \u201cdrink up\u201d and just have fun \u2013 after all, who\u2019s going to know if no one tells? To look and feel \u201cgrown-up\u201d Adolescents often want to be treated like adults. \u201cI\u2019m not a kid anymore\u201d is a frequent mantra, especially when they want privileges that come with age \u2013 like using alcohol. It\u2019s no surprise that they\u2019re drawn to things that make them feel like an adult \u2013 older, more mature, more sophisticated. Drinking, smoking, and drug use can all boost that feeling; \u201cHey, look at me, I\u2019m all grown up now.\u201d With those behaviors comes the illusion that one is truly mature \u2013 and thus can handle anything. Sadly, one bad incident can quickly shatter it and remind them just how young and vulnerable they still are. But until such an event, they naively believe that \u201cbad things\u201d happen only to \u201cother kids." They overestimate their maturity and underestimate their vulnerability. Modeling parents\u2019 behavior Teens that grow up with parents who abuse alcohol or drugs often follow suit. After all, that\u2019s what they know and what they\u2019ve learned. Not to mention, if one or both parents are actively using they often have easy access as well. Not only does the apple often not fall far from the tree, kids often mimic their parents\u2019 behaviors \u2013 both good and bad. Granted, some kids will do the very opposite and shun all substances, wanting to avoid the very thing that ruined their parents\u2019 lives or led to traumatic childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect. Curiosity Another reason teens abuse alcohol or drugs is out of curiosity. The desire to try new things and explore the world didn\u2019t suddenly shut off when puberty commenced. In fact, it often becomes even stronger. Most teens have a lot more autonomy (and some have way too much) than they did as children. They\u2019re less closely supervised and often left home alone for chunks of time while mom and dad are still at work or out for the evening. The desire to find out what it feels like to get drunk or high \u2013 \u201cjust this once,\u201d of course \u2013 can be very strong. Not to mention, \u201cEverybody experiments \u2013 don\u2019t they?\u201d can be a very compelling rationale. Unfortunately, far too many kids end up in alcohol or drug rehab treatment down the road due to some ill-fated need to satisfy their curiosity. Boredom It\u2019s been said that \u201cidle hands are the devil\u2019s tools\u201d \u2013 and similarly, that an \u201cidle mind is the devil\u2019s playground.\u201d In other words, boredom can quickly get anyone \u2013 and especially a restless teen \u2013 into all sorts of trouble. It\u2019s even worse for teens who have bored friends. Passing the time with a few beers or a few hits with friends (or even alone) is often a slippery slope to addiction. Self-medication Teens who struggle with a lot of emotional pain are especially vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse. They use these substances \u2013 just like many adults - as a way to self-medicate. They know that getting high or getting drunk will, at least temporarily, numb or ease their pain and provide them with a means of escape. These substances can also appear to ease the problem. For example, a socially awkward or a teen struggling with anxiety may use alcohol in a desperate attempt to feel more comfortable around others. A teen living in a conflicted home environment may resort to drugs to shut out the world for a while \u2013 or at least make it feel a little more bearable. Rebellion Teens like to assert their budding maturity and test the limits with their parents. Those with nagging, overprotective, or strict parents often lash out in a passive-aggressive manner. Rather than talking to mom and dad about their frustrations, such as what they perceive as overly strict rules, religious hypocrisy, or constant nagging, they may rebel by using alcohol or drugs -- especially if they know that doing so will make their parents angry or embarrassed. Ignorance Let\u2019s face it, most teens don\u2019t know what\u2019s good for them and what\u2019s not. Not because they\u2019re not bright, but because they simply don\u2019t have enough information or experience. Experimenting with alcohol or drugs often seems innocent enough-- in fact, it\u2019s often regarded as a sort of adolescent \u201crite of passage.\u201d Many teens feel entitled to experiment at this age, as if they\u2019re expected to do so and therefore should do so. What many don\u2019t realize is that it\u2019s neither innocent nor harmless. For those on the outside looking in, it seems like everyone who\u2019s \u201cdoing it\u201d is having fun, and they\u2019re the ones who are missing out. What they don\u2019t yet see (and haven\u2019t yet learned to minimize or rationalize) is all the vomiting after drinking too much, the hangover the next morning, or the sickening \u201cwhat have I done?\u201d morning-after feeling when they\u2019ve just woken up in a strange place or realized that the needle they used was dirty. Even worse is finding themselves in a jail cell or mourning the death of a friend who drove home drunk. The bliss of ignorance can be quickly shattered. To Have Fun A dangerous reason teens abuse alcohol or drugs is just for the sake of entertainment. Getting drunk or high with friends sounds fun -- in the moment. What isn\u2019t fun about spending time with friends, sharing an intensely pleasurable drug-induced euphoria, or the disinhibiting effects of alcohol? The silliness, the slurred words, the stumbling, the bizarre behavior \u2013 all of those things can be very entertaining and make for great stories the next day or down the road. Of course, it\u2019s all just regular teenage fun - until someone is seriously injured, has to face a judge, or dead as a result. They\u2019ve become addicted Teens don\u2019t use alcohol or drugs with the intent of becoming addicted. In fact, since part of adolescence is the still-intact belief that you\u2019re invincible. Talk to your teen. If you\u2019re the parent of a pre-teen or adolescent, talk to him or her today about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. Don\u2019t lecture. Avoid being condescending. Don\u2019t be dramatic. Just talk \u2013 openly and directly. Talk to your child from a place of unconditional love, genuine concern, understanding, and heartfelt compassion, recognizing the challenges and temptations that are so insidious and prevalent at that age. Understand just how vulnerable and easily influenced teens are. Do everything you can, today and going forward, to keep the doors of communication as wide open as possible, so that your child will know that he or she can talk to you, confide in you, and ask you questions about alcohol or drugs. Addiction Help Is Available At Promises Treatment Center Hopefully, by doing so, your teen can avoid the dangerous landmines that devastate and destroy the lives of so many young people. If your teen is already abusing alcohol or drugs, don\u2019t hesitate to seek help. We offer a variety of treatment programs including: \tFamily Therapy Program \tGroup Therapy Program \tPsychotherapy Program \tCognitive-Behavioral Therapy \tDialectical Behavior Therapy Contact an addiction specialist or local alcohol and drug treatment facility for guidance in confronting the problem, and to determine the best options for treatment. Call today, because tomorrow may be too late. Learn more about the reasons teens abuse alcohol or drugs and get your child the help they need. To start the recovery process for yourself or a loved one, call to speak confidentially with a Promises Recovery Advisor.