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Why Kids Get Involved with Drugs

Some kids become druggies because they can’t figure out another way to fit in. The entrance requirements for the drug clique are easy. Just use and buy drugs. Presto. You have a group to hang with. For kids who are lonely or feeling they don’t have what it takes to gain membership in another high school group, this is very, very seductive.

Some kids get in over their heads and don’t know how to get out. What started as a way to fit in takes on a life of its own. Other kids threaten them if they try to leave the group. I even know of kids who were told that the group would hurt their family if they didn’t steal, deal, and use. What looked like escalating criminal activity was really a frantic attempt to protect their family.

Some kids who use drugs are self-medicating. I’ve worked with several kids who discovered that they felt better when they tried marijuana at a party. They kept using because they liked the relief. It turned out that they were suffering from an untreated depression or a high level of anxiety. When we got them on proper medication, they no longer abused illegal drugs.

Some kids have the mistaken idea that in order to be okay they have to be better than other people. They know they can’t compete with the “good kids” in the family or at school. They have the idea that they can’t be a star in any area that counts to their peers. Their self-esteem then depends on finding at least some way to be “better” than other people. So they become the best at being worst. It may be painful but it works.

Some kids use drugs for all the attention it gets them. If he were the perfect child, would he get anywhere near the same amount of attention from you? Does he know that he would? Is it possibly true that he just doesn’t have any outstanding academic, sports or artistic talents but has ambitions for fame? In his discouragement, he may have turned to the only arena where he feels he can be successful. If being a star achiever isn’t possible, being a “gangsta” will have to do. From his point of view, at least he’ll be noticed.

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