Under The Influence

Studies show peer pressure is main contributor to teen drug use


The only thought that enters her mind as *Jane stares at marijuana is no.

But openly refusing it is like refusing popularity, a title only worthy of those who do this newfound coming of age ritual.

Peer pressure suddenly felt physical as she was at a loss for words.

Her friend is waiting for her response, shifting impatiently with an extended hand. She stares at it, conflicted with herself and what she wants. Seeing the others hold what her friend is smoking, she finally makes her choice.

Although within the last five years teen substance abuse has decreased, it is still an issue within high schools.

In 2013 alone, over 2.9 million adolescents from 12 to 17 have come into contact with alcohol according to the Office of Adolescent Health.

“When I get stressed out, or when things get really bad in my life that’s when I start doing drugs,” *Adam said. “It relaxes me.”

According to a survey by Parent Further, only 10 percent of students said they hadn’t faced peer pressure and 28 percent of teens said giving into peer pressure improved their social standing.”

Sophomore Easton Johnson believes that students use drugs for self medication, to ease depression or stress and to “find a better place.”

Johnson is not alone in that belief. Studies show that 73 percent of teens say the number one reason for using drugs is to cope with school pressure according to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

“The only thing you’re doing is wasting your life,” freshman Clayton Shotts said. “There are other outlets for things like that.”

Research shows one way students find those other outlets is talking to their parents. However on average, only 14 percent of parents actually talk to their kids about drug abuse.

Junior Georgia Magee says she thinks growing up as a cop’s daughter really helped her ”know a lot more of the risks now on a lot of drugs.”

And she sees those risks played out in students who choose drug use.

“They see the adult examples in their lives,” Magee said. “That’s the only example they see so they follow that because they don’t know better.”

One in five drug abusers in some rehabilitation programs in the United States received their first taste of illegal substances from their parents before the age of 18 according to a survey taken by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates.

”Parents that offer their children alcohol and drugs have probably gone through something in their childhood that has led them to that,” sophomore Maria Varela said, “led them to it to the point to where they wouldn’t mind if their kids did it even if they know it’s bad.”

Over 8.3 million children in the United States often times consuming the drugs in front of their children.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Researchers says that when students start high school, parents start to lose much of their influence. According to a survey by Parent Further,  only 10 percent of students said they hadn’t faced peer pressure and 28 percent of teens said giving into peer pressure improved their social standing.

“Several of my friends have offered me marijuana,” said *Jane. “I didn’t want to be the person that wouldn’t try it.”

Jane isn’t the only teen facing this issue. On average, over 70 percent of high school students who smoke marijuana began because of peer pressure.

“It took me about 30 minutes until I finally caved in,” said *Adam.

Unlike Adam, Jane did not cave into the pressure, but it wasn’t easy.

“Resisting the urge,” *Jane said is harder to do when friends often offer drugs.

*name changed