| Jill Nicholson|
|Everybody knows bad things can happen to drug users. They become addicted. They can have serious or even fatal health problems. They can ruin their personal, social and professional lives. They may even end up in jail. But why do young people start taking drugs in the first place? What are the causes of drug use among young people?|
|The first cause is simple curiosity. Many teens have heard about drugs, and they are curious to experience them for themselves. They have heard that drugs can be fun, or make a person feel and act different. Maybe they have seen their friends or family members behave differently while on drugs, and they want to see how it really feels. We see drugs on TV and movies every day. Many young people encounter them at school, at home or in their neighborhood. It is not unusual to be curious about something you see and hear about so often, so many people first try drugs because they are curious about them.|
|Another reason young people take drugs is to escape their reality. Maybe their home life is not very happy. Maybe they have a boring job, are not doing well in school, or are just not happy with their life for whatever reason. For many people, drugs are a way to escape that unhappy reality. They can feel a little braver, stronger, a little smarter, more beautiful or more important. Of course this doesn�t last long, but that doesn�t matter. For the brief time that the drugs are taking affect, the user can forget about the problems, responsibilities and limitations of everyday life and escape to a fantasy world. It is no secret that drugs change the way you feel; this is why they are so attractive to young people despite their dangers.|
|Young people also take drugs to feel cool and impress their friends. If your friends all smoke marijuana, you will probably be expected to smoke it, too. If they snort cocaine, they will offer it to you. They may tell you that you are scared or acting like a baby if you don�t want to try it. This push to do what your friends are doing is called peer pressure, and it has a very strong effect on young people who don�t want to appear uncool to their friends. Some kids will do whatever their friends do, just to fit in and follow the crowd. They don�t want to be the only one not doing something, even if it is something dangerous, like taking drugs.|
|Unfortunately, many young people become involved in drugs before they are fully aware of the health risks and the power of addiction. They need to understand the ways young people first become involved with drugs so they can beware of them. Many curious teens have died the first time they tried certain drugs, like ecstasy. Others have found their temporary escape became a permanent addiction. Was it worth it?|
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Who’s Most Likely to Become Addicted?
Each person’s body and brain is different. People also react differently to drugs. Some love the feeling the first time they try it and want more. Others hate it and never try again.
Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. But it can happen to anyone and at any age. Some things may raise your chances of addiction, including:
Family history. Your genes are responsible for about half of your odds. If your parents or siblings have problems with alcohol or drugs, you’re more likely as well. Women and men are equally likely to become addicted.
Early drug use. Children’s brains are still growing, and drug use can change that. So taking drugs at an early age may make you more likely to get addicted when you get older.
Mental disorders. If you’re depressed, have trouble paying attention, or worry constantly, you have a higher chance of addiction. You may turn to drugs as a way to try to feel better.
Troubled relationships. If you grew up with family troubles and aren’t close to your parents or siblings, it may raise your chances of addiction.