Parents Ask: Frequent Questions and Concerns

Why do kids use drugs?

Kids use drugs for three major reasons:

1) They’re curious.

2) They want to fit in.

3) They’re wanting to escape uncomfortable feelings, such as anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration, stress, or boredom.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, guys and girls use drugs for different reasons. Guys tend to use drugs to seek thrill and adventure, to show off, or to be cool. Girls tend to use drugs to self-medicate, fit in with the crowd, to lose weight, or to cope with physical or sexual abuse 1.

Which drugs lure kids today?

Researchers say that kids are most likely to use cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs since they’re the most widely available and the least expensive 1 . Athletes are at risk of getting mixed up with steroids and other performance-enhancing herbs and drugs since competition is fierce, and some athletic high school teams stress short-term winning over long-term health habits 1.

What’s the connection between drugs, alcohol, and sex?

Drug use, alcohol, and sexual intercourse too often go hand-in-hand for teenagers. Of sexually active teenagers, almost one out of four had used drugs or drunk alcohol before having sexual intercourse 1. When young people have more Developmental Assets, they’re less likely to use drugs, alcohol, or have sex. When young people have 10 Developmental Assets or fewer, they tend to engage in nine risky behaviors (such as using drugs, using alcohol, and having sex) where young people with 31 to 40 Developmental Assets tend to experiment with only one risky behavior 2.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2007,” Surveillance Summaries, June 6, 2008, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 57, No. SS-4, 23.

2. Search Institute, Developmental Assets: A Profile of Your Youth, Executive Summary, 26.