How Social Media Can Influence Teen Drug Use

Young people have been experimenting with drugs and alcohol for generations. However, each generation faces unique challenges. Today, social media plays a big role when it comes to teenage drug use. Teens are especially vulnerable to things they see on Snapchat, Instagram, and more recently, TikTok.

Not only can they see what their friends are up to, but they have access to celebrities and social media influencers whom they’ve never met. Some of these individuals post photos and videos of themselves drinking or getting high and this helps to normalize that type of behavior. Teenagers can begin to think that this behavior is acceptable.

One study found that teenagers who regularly use social media were more likely to use drugs and drink than those who don’t. It was carried out by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. More specifically, the survey of 2000 adolescents found that regular users were three times more likely to drink and two times more likely to use marijuana. They are also five times more likely to buy cigarettes.

If you notice any signs of addiction in your teenager, reach out to a qualified treatment center for help.

The Impact of Social Media Posts and Fear of Missing Out

Social media has desensitized children to drugs and alcohol at a much younger age. They see celebrities, musicians, and models glamorizing or advertising certain products. They can, therefore, begin to equate substance use with having a good time. Teenagers who see their friends and family seemingly having fun while using drugs and alcohol may also feel left out. Some may engage in risky behaviors in an effort to fit in. Teenage drug use or alcohol use can also stem from depression, as a way to cope.

The CASA study mentioned above found that teens who see these types of photos are four times more likely to have used marijuana. They are also three times more likely to have consumed alcohol compared to young people who did not view these types of pictures.  Advertising plays a significant role in adolescents’ decision to use tobacco or alcohol.

The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health

Social media can also be a catalyst for mental health challenges that lead to substance abuse. Social media fuels comparisons with other people who seem to have perfect lives. This is difficult for adults to manage and even harder for teens. Checking social media constantly can exacerbate negative feelings. Not only do teenagers feel unhappy and generally dissatisfied but they may experience low self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, and sleep disturbances. Those who were already living with anxiety and depression may find that social media cause their symptoms to worsen. When young people are dealing with emotional problems and they don’t have a healthy outlet, they often turn to alcohol or drugs.

What Parents Should Do in Response

Almost every teenager is active on a social media platform. While you should be concerned about the type of content your children are consuming, you shouldn’t panic. While social media use increases the likelihood that teens will use alcohol, tobacco or marijuana, it doesn’t guarantee that they will use illicit substances. As a parent, you need to aware of the marketing messages and risky behaviors displayed on social media.

Teens use the popular platforms to communicate with their friends, view entertaining content, and even learn. You probably don’t want to ban them from going online but you need to monitor them. You also need to talk to them openly about the brands and individuals they follow and ensure they know the risks associated with substance abuse. Peer pressure is a real concern, but parents still have influence.

If you suspect that your child is already using or abusing drugs or alcohol, talking may not be sufficient. You may need to seek professional help. Abruptly quitting alcohol or drugs is dangerous. That’s why it is best to speak to a recovery specialist so your teen can begin to live a healthy life.

Contact Asheville Recovery Center if You Notice a Problem with Teenage Drug Use

At Asheville Recovery Center, we help people to overcome problems with drug and alcohol use. Our addiction treatment programs are personalized since we know that each patient is different. If you believe your teenager has a problem with substance use or abuse, don’t delay in reaching out to us. It doesn’t matter whether you think social media had a role to play in their condition or not. Schedule a free consultation and learn how our team of professionals can help.