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The “Why” Behind the High: Teen Drug Experimentation

Even if we channel our inner teenager, it can still be difficult to relate to our own teenage child. What was in-style then probably isn’t in-style now. The things you were faced with as a teen could be completely different than what your child is faced with.

Sometimes teens will engage in drug experimentation. There are many ways parents address this type of finding. They can become infuriated, aggressive, and over-reactive, which turns their child away from them and creates more problems. Or they can wait until they are calm to confront their child, listen to understand rather than accuse, and get them the help and guidance they need. Please don’t be parent number one.

If you were never exposed to or interested in drugs as a teen doesn’t mean that your child will have the same experiences. There is always a motivation for the action. You should educate yourself on what may be lying at the root of the issue. Understanding is the first step to helping your child.

Causes of Drug Experimentation

Here are seven reasons why teens experiment with drugs:


Simple boredom is a common reason teens resort to drugs because they have no deeper interests. Make sure your teen is engaged in plenty of activities or at-home responsibilities so they don’t have time to ponder the idea of substance use.

A Bonding Experience

Teens often experiment with drugs as a way to make friends or gain social acceptance. This isn’t the same as direct peer pressure; it stems from the desire to bond and make friends. Encourage your children to join clubs and sports. This encourages healthy friend making.


Some teens turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of escapism. When we are sad or depressed we see these substances as a way to forget and feel happier. It’s our attempt to self-medicate. You may see a sullen attitude as “just being a teenager,” but there may be a deeper depression within.


Curiosity is a natural part of life and teenagers are not immune to the urge. As teenagers, we have the delusion that we are invincible. Even if we know that drugs are bad, we don’t believe that anything bad can actually happen to us. This can also make the idea more attractive. Educate your child about the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse.

Weight Loss

Female teenagers often turn to harder drugs—such as cocaine—for a quick way to lose weight. During high school especially, young girls become more body-conscious and may become desperate to slim down to gain confidence and feel accepted.


During high school, many teenagers are overly stressed with a packed schedule of advanced classes and extracurricular activities. A lack of coping skills can lead us to seek out an artificial method of coping with stress. We then turn to drugs such as marijuana in order to relax.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure- when teenagers begin to think “everyone else is doing it,” so we should too. At a party, after prom, with friends or significant others—these are all common situations in which we feel like we need to join in to fit in.

Kokua Recovery can help

Kokua Recovery is a substance abuse and addiction treatment center for young people ages 13-17. The program focuses on creating a positive change in the lives of students. Various types of therapy and activities are taught and used to replace the needs of addiction. Students leave Kokua Recovery feeling empowered and in control of their lives and how to live healthily. Give us a call at (877) 302-5022 and speak to one of our admissions experts about how we can help your family today.

Ken Huey

Upon graduating from Purdue with a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy, Dr. Huey worked as a therapist, Clinical Director, and Business Development Director in residential treatment. Dr. Huey was always drawn to the large population of adoptees in residential treatment (he is adopted himself). He ultimately became convinced that this population needed specialty care and in November of 2006, Dr. Huey founded Calo. Calo grew to a 200 plus employee organization with about the same numbers of teen clients served each year. He sold Calo and retired in June of 2015. He came out of retirement in 2017 and founded Kokua Recovery, trauma-informed residential drug and alcohol treatment with sites in Colorado.

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