Many different sources of illegal drugs and alcohol are available for teenagers. Discover where teenagers get medication and how you can prevent drug use by minors.
Drug use by young people remains a major health problem in countries such as the United States. If teenagers are even forbidden to buy alcohol or tobacco, where do they get their drugs from?
Unfortunately, there are many different sources with which a young student can obtain this type of (illegal) substance. Knowledge of these drug sources is important for parents who want to protect their children against illegal drug use and limit the risk of addiction.
Facts and statistics on drug use in teenagers
In general, teen drug use and alcohol use are declining. Aside from vaping — which has skyrocketed in recent years among college students — teenage use of most drugs has been declining for several years in a row.
The use of alcohol by minors has also fallen slowly lately, while the use of teenage marijuana has remained more or less the same.
The facts and statistics about drug use among teenagers in the United States show that in recent years:
- 29,8% of high school students regularly use alcohol
- 13,5% of high school students regularly drink firmer (they then consume four or more alcoholic drinks in succession)
- 19,8% of high school students regularly use marijuana
- 7.5% of 18 year-olds took marijuana last month through vapen
- 12,4% of 18 year-olds used illegal drugs in the past year
- 11% of high school students have misused prescription drugs last year
- 7,9% of students in higher schools and universities regularly use drugs such as amphetamine, such as Adderall or Ritalin
- 4% of high school students regularly use painkillers
How teenagers get drugs and alcohol
There are many ways teenagers can get hold of drugs or alcohol without buying them in a store. The high availability of illegal substances in most communities gives teenagers easy access to drugs, both at school and in other places. Groups of teenagers can develop specific ways to find and distribute drugs to each other without adults finding out what's going on.
Drugs at school
Many drug transactions take place on school grounds, where teenagers sell drugs to their peers. At school, teenagers have access to a greater amount of drugs than they would be used to seeing in their own social and existing groups of friends.
Teenage drug dealers operate in secret around the schools and campus and may close deals regularly. Almost 20% (1 on the 5) of all high school students say they have sold, given or offered drugs on the school grounds.
Much of the alcohol (and marijuana, in countries where it is legal) that teenagers consume is originally obtained from bars and shops using a fake identification card.
A survey of fake ID statistics found that around 12,5% of high school graduates use a fake ID to buy alcohol before going to college or university. That number increases dramatically, to 32,2%, when they are second-year students. Those who have a fake ID are much more likely to be heavy drinkers than those who don't.
As forgery technology advances, it has become increasingly difficult for scanners to determine whether an ID is real or fake. There are secret companies that laminate fake driver's licenses with photos of underage customers. In other cases, a teen can steal an ID card from an older sibling or other person who looks like them.
Alcohol and medication at home
Teenagers can often find resources that they can use to get high in their own homes. The medicine and beverage boxes at home are often the target of teenagers who abuse drugs or alcohol themselves or sell them to other students at school.
Prescription drug use by teenagers is high, especially with regard to performance-enhancing drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin, and even opiate painkillers. That is why it is very important for parents to get rid of all unused medication as quickly as possible and to pay attention to the fact that prescriptions run out faster than expected.
Over-the-counter drug use at home is also a major factor influencing teen drug abuse. If parents, older siblings, or other family members or roommates are on illegal drugs, teens are likely to have easy access to them. Furthermore, use by parents and family members can validate or justify a teen's own drug use.
Online sale of drugs and medicines
Persistent popups or spam emails selling cheap drugs for sale online are increasingly common. Many web pages that appear legitimate can be fronts for selling illegal substances and are available to anyone, anywhere in the world. Teenagers learn about these sites through word of mouth and can easily purchase medicines online.
Teens can also go to the dark web to buy illegal drugs or drugs without a prescription. The dark web is an encrypted subsection of the Internet that cannot be accessed without special software or authorization. It is largely used for illegal activities such as the sale of medicines. In 2013, there was a federal removal of an online drug market called Silk Road, which had accomplished and facilitated more than a million transactions - totaling more than $ 1 billion in sales - in just over two years.
Despite the closure of Silk Road, similar shady websites remain live and accessible to teenagers. Today's teenagers are increasingly technically skilled and many understand how they can access the dark web and can use it to buy drugs online.
Illegal online pharmacies
Apart from the dark side with the Dark Web, the internet is full of fake pharmacies that sell drugs illegally. Many of these so-called pharmacies are not located in the country where they offer the medicines and so often try to fall outside the regulations. Teenagers can go online and order any number of prescription drugs and have them shipped in a discreet package to their address.
Buying drugs from these illegal online pharmacies is very dangerous. In benign cases, these companies can simply dispense sugar pills. In more severe cases, these drugs can contain highly toxic or even deadly substances. Additionally, there is no quality control to guarantee the actual dosage of a drug purchased through these online retailers, making overdose just like that a very real possibility.
Prevent misuse of funds by teenagers
Parents, guardians and other people around a teenager can have a significant impact on drug use or austerity among young people. These people play an important role in the prevention of drug use by young people.
Friends, family members and other loved ones can help prevent abuse of substances by teenagers by:
- Set a good example by avoiding illegal drug use
- Being a model for safe drinking, such as drinking only in moderation
- Only use medication as prescribed
- Conduct an open, non-judgmental conversation about drug use
- Recognition of peer pressure at school
- Tracking teen activities
- Note signs of the use of (narcotic) drugs
If drug or alcohol use is suspected, they may need addiction treatment. The family doctor is a good place to start for help and resources. Specialized care programs designed for adolescents and these young people can help them get back on a healthy path.
Read more on TheRecoveryVillage (EN, source)