Social Media's Effect on Drug and Alcohol Abuse:
What Is the Problem and How Can We Fix It?
Photo : Okky.novianto / Wiki Commons
It is scary to think about all of the dangers that today’s teens are exposed to with the mass availability of the Internet these days. As a matter of fact, 70 percent of teens in America from the ages of twelve to seventeen are using social media almost every day. With the amount of teens using social media rising, studies are now starting to show that teens who see others using drugs on social media are more likely to replicate the same behavior. This trend of digital peer pressure is leading to major issues for teens all across the United States.
When teens see their friends post pictures of themselves using drugs or alcohol, these images are often followed by dozens of “likes” and comments that talk about how much fun it was. It has created a pattern where teens will try to be “cool” like their friends by copying their behaviors. What many had formerly seen as peer pressure in the past has now evolved into a more digital form of pressure.
In addition to friends, many celebrities and other pop culture figures might be starting to play a larger role in the lives of young people. When celebrities and other public figures put drug and alcohol use in a positive light, it is easy to see how teens looking up to them could be more at risk for abuse. It does not help that many of the songs and movies they produce often glorify the use of drugs and alcohol.
It is also becoming more common for teens to find potential dealers through social networking sites. Researchers have found that selling drugs on these sites is easy for dealers. Many times, dealers will pick usernames implying that they sell drugs while blatantly posting images of their products. Now, teens have the potential to contact drug dealers with whom they have no connection in under five minutes through a simple text message.
How to Fix It
If a teen is showing any signs of potential drug or alcohol abuse, they should consider finding professional treatment as soon as possible. Thankfully, there are a growing number of programs out there, making it much more likely to find a program that will fit the individual. There are now teen-specific facilities, Christian-based recovery programs, and other programs designed to cover other needs.
While it can be difficult to prevent these issues from happening, there are a few precautions parents can take to make their teens less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. One of theses methods is monitoring their teen’s Internet usage, including social media. This can be strengthened by setting a strict set of rules or even using tracking software.
Simply having a talk with teens about the potential risks of drug and alcohol abuse can help as well. It may lead to teens realizing that mimicking others is not exactly the solution to all of their problems. It may also be beneficial to keep track of the kids they are spending their time with. If teens have friends who are abusing drug or are at a higher risk for abusing drugs and alcohol, that could mean trouble for them.
Teen drug and alcohol abuse is scary. But treatment, such as teen-based rehab and Christian-based recovery programs, are available. Knowing and monitoring teens might even prevent the need for such treatment in the first place.