By: Keabetsoe Malikhetla

Teenagers engaging in substance use, such as smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, is a complex issue influenced by various factors. By fostering open communication, promoting healthy coping mechanisms, and providing alternative avenues for entertainment and fulfillment, we can support teens in making informed choices and lead them towards a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle.  This article aims to explore some of the reasons why some late teens may be drawn to these substances.

Social Influence and Peer Pressure
One factor contributing to substance use among teenagers is the influence of their social environment. Adolescents often observe adults, including their parents, engaging in alcohol consumption and smoking. Additionally, if their social circle revolves around drinking or using marijuana, they may feel compelled to join in due to peer pressure and the desire to fit in. Peer pressure can be particularly influential for teenagers lacking self-confidence or struggling to assert their own choices.

Media Influence
Another influential factor is the media that teenagers consume. Television shows, movies, and social media platforms often portray substance use in a glamorous or appealing light. Some impressionable teens may be attracted to these substances as a result of the images they see on-screen or online. It is crucial for parents and caregivers to be aware of the media their children are exposed to and engage in open conversations to address any misconceptions or negative influences.

Emotional Coping Mechanisms
Teenagers facing emotional challenges, such as stress, depression, or anxiety, may turn to substances like alcohol or marijuana as a means of self-medication. They may believe that these substances help them alleviate their negative emotions or temporarily escape their problems. However, it’s essential to highlight that relying on substances as a coping mechanism can lead to further addiction and hinder healthy emotional and physical development.

Boredom and Seeking Stimulation
Some teenagers may turn to substance use out of boredom or a desire for excitement. Experimentation with marijuana or alcohol may be seen as a way to provide stimulation or a sense of enjoyment. However, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of finding healthier alternatives for entertainment and fulfillment.