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The Rise in Youth Substance Use: Understanding the Underlying Causes 

In recent years, there has been a concerning trend of substance use starting at younger ages. At Avise Wellness, we believe in understanding the root causes of these behaviors to effectively address and prevent them. Here’s a comprehensive look at why children and teens are increasingly turning to substance use. 

Experimentation and Curiosity

The teenage brain is still developing, and with this comes a natural inclination towards experimentation and curiosity. Teens often lack the ability to fully process long-term consequences, leading them to experiment with substances without fully understanding the risks (Natural High). 

Peer Pressure and Social Acceptance

The desire to fit in and be accepted by peers can drive teenagers to use substances. This need for acceptance and belonging, especially in the digital age where social media plays a significant role, can increase the likelihood of substance use (Natural High). 

Perceived Popularity

Studies have shown a correlation between substance use and perceptions of popularity among adolescents. The pursuit of being seen as ‘cool’ or popular can lead to risky behaviors, including substance use (Natural High). 

Misconceptions and Social Norms

Many teenagers operate under misconceptions about the prevalence of drug use among their peers, often overestimating it. This misconception can make substance use seem more common and acceptable than it is (Natural High). 

To Feel Adult-Like

Teens often want to assert their independence and adulthood, leading them to engage in behaviors perceived as ‘adult,’ including substance use. They may view these actions as a way to assert their autonomy and challenge boundaries (Natural High). 

Escaping Emotional or Psychological Distress

Substances are sometimes used as a means to escape stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues. The temporary relief they provide can make them appealing to youths struggling with emotional or psychological distress (CHOC). 

Family Influence and Environment

A family history of substance use or an environment where substance use is normalized can significantly impact a child’s likelihood of substance use. Additionally, poor parental monitoring or favorable parental attitudes towards substance use can increase risk (CDC). 

Coping with Trauma or Stress

Substances may be used as a coping mechanism for trauma or intense stress. This could be related to family issues, school pressures, or social challenges that the teen is facing (CHOC). 

The Role of Media and Advertising

Media portrayal and advertising of substances can also influence young people. The glorification of drug use in media can contribute to a skewed perception of its acceptability and safety. 

Lack of Accurate Information

A lack of comprehensive education on the risks and effects of substance use can leave teens uninformed about the dangers, leading to riskier behaviors. 


At Avise Wellness, we recognize these factors and emphasize the importance of early intervention, education, and support for youths and their families. Addressing these root causes is key to preventing and treating substance use among young people. Our approach involves not only treating the symptoms of substance use but also understanding and addressing these underlying reasons to promote long-lasting recovery and well-being. 



– Natural High, [8 Reasons Why Kids Try Drugs]( 

– CHOC, [Why are youths resorting to substance and drug use?]( 

– CDC, [High Risk Substance Use in Youth]( 

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