Emotional needs often motivate drug use in teens

Like their counterparts across the country, Illinois teenagers might turn to drugs or alcohol to soothe unpleasant feelings and cultivate a social life. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids warns parents that drug and alcohol use by teens arises for many reasons, and emotional needs play a significant role.

For teens restrained by shy personalities, getting drunk or high allows them a path for overcoming social anxiety. Intoxication grants them a feeling of freedom in which they can act on their desires. Furthermore, hanging out with a group of people who also indulge in drugs and alcohol gives shy teenagers almost instant access to a social clique where they fit in.

Drugs and alcohol also offer a fast way to escape unpleasant feelings. A teenager, especially one slipping into depression, might feel better when high or drunk. Feelings of oblivion, bliss, confidence and happiness activated by intoxicating substances could be irresistible to an unhappy teenager who lacks healthy outlets for coping with emotional turmoil. In this situation, drug and alcohol use is a form of self-medication that provides temporary relief.

Regardless of the reasons prompting the substance abuse, the behavior could get a teenager in trouble with authorities. Because conviction for a juvenile crime might have serious consequences, the family of the teen might seek representation from a criminal defense attorney. With legal support, the family could gain crucial information about the criminal court process. An attorney could also study the evidence in the teenager's case and challenge it if it appears inadequate to support criminal charges. Negotiations with a prosecutor for a lenient sentence or a case dismissal might be conducted by an attorney. If a case goes to court, an attorney could take actions meant to protect the young person's rights.

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