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Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

As a parent or educator, you may be wondering why teens use drugs. Are there core issues or influences behind a child’s substance use or addiction? Or are they simply experimenting?

What Are the Risks of Teen Drug Abuse?

Teen drug abuse is no less risky than when adults take drugs.

Teenage drug use can cause poor judgment in both social and interpersonal interactions. It can also expose them to a community where drug use is considered normal, exposing them to potential substance addiction. It may also cause them to engage in unsafe sexual activity, which may lead to sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies.

Teen drug use also complicates and increases the risks of mental health issues and disorders. Teenagers run the same risk of potential overdoses or causing physical or psychological damage to themselves and their loved ones through substance abuse, as adults do.

Substance use can in turn lead to drug dependence, and teenagers who use drugs run a higher risk of being involved with serious drug use later in their lives. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, new studies show that adolescents with multiple symptoms of substance use disorder do not easily transition out of symptomatic substance use in adulthood.

Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

Drug abuse among juveniles is commonly seen as an expression of another unspoken, unsatisfied issue. Alcohol is frequently associated with teenagers who wish to release anger, as it allows them to behave aggressively. Prescription medications may be abused simply to get high, while hallucinogens like mushrooms or LSD are often used by young people as a means of escaping to a more kind or idealistic world. Cigarettes are sometimes associated with provoking parents or rebelling and showing independence.

People often want to believe that teenage drug use is just a phase or a means of experimenting. But with drug use among 8th graders going up 61% between 2016 and 2020, there may be some underlying reasons.

To Fit In

Teenage years often come with low self-esteem, many insecurities, and a big fear of not being accepted. Making friends at school can be difficult for young people, and many teens may engage in drug abuse to fit in. If others are considered ‘cool’ and are doing it, kids may fear that they will not be accepted into a social circle if they aren’t using drugs too.

Alcohol and drugs also loosen inhibitions, making social interactions easier and alleviating any social anxiety. Drug use can make teens feel that they have something in common, and a fear of being left out can prompt them to engage in it.

To Do Better

Many parents overlook the possibility that school stress can lead to their teen’s drug use. In a very competitive society, there is immense pressure on kids for athletic and academic performance. Some young adults even turn to illegal prescription stimulants to enhance their school performance.

In and outside of school, young people may want to prove their worth to their peers and their loved ones. Competition to be outstanding comes with a lot of intensity, and sometimes costs teens their sobriety.

To Feel Good

Drugs affect the neurochemistry of the brain and produce pleasurable feelings. Many teens use drugs or alcohol simply to get high. They may be looking for a thrill or an intensified feeling that they may not find in other activities. This is usually where addiction starts, as drugs interact with our brain’s method of producing and experiencing pleasure.

To Feel Better

Feeling good is one thing, but it is vastly different from feeling better when considering teen drug use. Usually, kids who take drugs to ‘feel better’ are in fact trying to cope with something.

It may be that they want to numb or dull very real emotional or psychological pain. They may be battling with something much deeper than peer pressure or school pressure. Teenage years come with everyday drama, challenging family dynamics, and loads of hormones. Rough teenage years can take an emotional toll on children, and they may take drugs to cope.

Adolescents can also suffer from depression, stress-related disorders, and social anxiety. Mental health issues combined with low self-esteem, possible anxiety disorders, and loneliness are often associated with drug abuse as teens use them as self-medication.

To Deal With Change

Change is not easy for most, and for teens, this is no exception. Teens turn to drugs to deal with changing situations. These could include moving, undergoing puberty, changing schools, or dealing with their parent’s divorce. Any change in school, friends, mental health, or self-esteem could prompt a teen to use substances.

To Experiment

Kids are indeed naturally curious and they sometimes stay curious as teenagers. It is common for teens to wonder about the sensations associated with alcohol or other drugs. Adolescents are usually motivated to look for new experiences and ones that are risky, daring, or thrilling are especially tempting. Teen years are the typical time for exploring and learning more about themselves, and this usually involves testing boundaries.


Teenagers often feel that they are not good enough, or look for something that will make them stand out or make them special. One of these things may be drug abuse, or the feeling of not being good enough can drive them to substance abuse. Sometimes a teenager might act out so that they may receive their teacher’s or parent’s attention.


Often things that happen in childhood influence a person’s behaviors or psychology when they grow up. A family history of substance abuse could expose a child to drugs at an early age, and they are more likely to develop a substance abuse issue themselves. Traumatic events such as experiencing a car accident, or low self-esteem stemming from emotional and physical abuse can cause teenagers to take drugs to cope.


Most kids grow up believing that drug or alcohol use is normal. Television shows, movies, and music may advertise or speak about it. A prime example is how easily pills are accepted as a means to deal with emotions or minor ailments like headaches. Teens may not always understand the consequences of drug use either.

Inaccurate information about drugs and alcohol is one of the key contributors for kids taking drugs. Usually, some friends will claim to know about recreational drugs, and can easily reassure others about their safety or minimal risk.

Role Models

Teens see their parents and other adults smoking, vaping, drinking alcohol, or sometimes trying other substances. They most often will imitate the habits of those that are supposed to be their role models. Parents may be permissive to drugs, smoking, or drinking, which places a teen at risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol.

What Can Help Prevent Teen Drug Use?

What Can Help Prevent Teen Drug Use

There is no surefire way to end addiction or ensure a teen never does drugs. However, there are effective drug prevention efforts that can reduce risk factors. It has to do with protective factors related to substance abuse.

The Parent or Caregiver Bond

A strong bond with a parent or caregiver can help decrease the risk factors of taking drugs. The first important step if a person suspects their child is struggling with substance abuse, is to not ignore it or its signs. To understand a teen’s drug use, a person has to understand the dynamics, feelings, or pressures behind it. To steer a teen away from harmful substances, a person may have to educate themselves on drugs and alcohol.

Parents or caregivers could talk to their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol regularly. As parents and caregivers are the most important role models in children’s lives, it is important to be aware of one’s behaviors. It may mean not taking drugs, drinking alcohol in moderation, and using prescription medication only as directed.

Taking care of a child’s mental health could include engaging in athletic or community activities, spending quality time together, or teaching them healthy coping skills for dealing with mental issues. Often, treatment centers can help with this. Treatment facilities can also help with any questions regarding a medical condition.

Know About Your Child

It is important to know your teen’s friends, and even better to meet their parents. Encouraging a child to invite their friends over could be a way to know them better, and to see if someone may be a bad influence.

Clear rules about drug use help, and being aware and talking about what a child hears, sees, or is exposed to can be vital.

Treatment Center

If your child’s drug use is worrying you, Clearfork is here to help. As a residential treatment center for teens, we understand how difficult drug and alcohol abuse can be for both teens and their parents.

That is why our treatment involves a family intensive week, while a licensed education program can keep your child’s academics on track. Medical detox, and residential and outpatient treatment options are available, and experienced nursing staff are on hand 24/7.

Clearfork understands that drug and alcohol use among teens may mean that they are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues too. That is why our addiction treatment program includes behavioral health treatment for substance use, mental health, and any co-occurring disorders. Get in contact today to find out how Clearfork Academy can help your teen.

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How Can I Prevent Drug Abuse in the Modern World With Young Teens?

How Can I Prevent Drug Abuse in the Modern World With Young Teens?

Today, teenagers see drug use glorified in music, movies, and television shows. Such media and even peers tend to promote drug use to escape or feel good. Yet, many young people who experiment with drugs often become addicted. 

A parent might wonder, what are some of the reasons for the growing rise of drug use, and what strategies can they adopt to protect their children? 

Reasons for the Growing Drug Use Among Teens

More children are being exposed to drugs than ever before. Some of the reasons for the drug abuse among teens include:

  • Rebellion and status: Teens may engage in drug use because they feel bored with their lives or need something new to do, so they try it out as an act of rebellion against their parents or society. 
  • Exposure to drugs at a young age: Many parents have little control over their child’s exposure to drugs. Most children will encounter drugs before reaching high school. With the growing rise of prescribed medications, doctors continue to prescribe stimulants, opioids, or opiates to the youth. Furthermore, young people have easy access to these medications through their parents’ medicine cabinets, online pharmacies, or peers.

Increased Stressors and Trauma Cases 

Children today must deal with many stressors that were less common 30 or 40 years ago. Such stressors include:

  • Living in a violent home or in a community where drug use is prevalent
  • Living in a neighborhood where unemployment and poverty are widespread
  • Experiencing a traumatic event such as an accident, the death of someone close, a natural disaster, or violence
  • Experiencing physical or sexual abuse
  • Widespread bullying, especially cyberbullying
  • Experiencing familial insecurities like mental health disorders, abuse, financial insecurity, neglectful parents,  and marital disputes

Popular Culture Glorifying Drug Use 

Many mainstream films, television shows, and musicians glorify substance use. Movies like 21 Jump Street, The Hangover, and Pineapple Express have promoted drug abuse. In contrast, television shows like Skins, Breaking Bad, Euphoria, and Party Down have also been criticized for glorifying illicit substances. 

Lack of Parental Supervision in Family Unit

A child’s first line of defense against drug abuse is parental supervision, communication, education, guidance, and love. However, for various reasons, many parents do not pay enough attention to their children’s behaviors and actions. Thus, these teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as using drugs

Strategies to Prevent or Minimize Drug Use

Although more and more teens are exposed to drug use, there are measures that parents can take to prevent them from becoming addicted to drugs. Here are some tips for preventing drug abuse in teens:

  • Know your teen’s friends. Teens tend to emulate their friends as they try to find their identity. If your teen has a friend who uses drugs, they are more likely to start using them. If you suspect that one of your kids’ friends uses drugs, you should talk about the issue with your teen and try to convince them to make new friends. Check out their social activities and whereabouts when they’re not at home. The best way to do this is by establishing a safe environment for them to confide in you about these details.
  • Maintain open communication. Parents will find it easier to monitor their teens if they have open communication. You can have an honest conversation about drugs by discussing real-life stories on television or the Internet or sharing some of your own experiences in your teenage years.
  • Set clear rules and consequences. Communication about rules and consequences is a must for every parent who wants to protect their teen from drug abuse. It would help if you made it clear that using drugs will not be tolerated under any circumstances and that adults in the home will be treated as role models and authority figures.

Talk About Drugs Early and Often

Kids notice everything, including ads for alcohol on television and movies that make drug use look cool. Maybe your child hasn’t asked you any questions yet. That doesn’t mean he isn’t listening. You can still introduce the topic by bringing up an ad or a music video they have watched. So be sure to talk openly about what they see when they’re young so that they understand that these images don’t tell the whole story.

Involve Your Child in Extracurricular Activities

Teenagers involved in sports, art, and other extracurricular activities are less likely to get involved with drugs. Taking part in these activities also helps teenagers develop good friendships with people who do not do drugs. This gives them a positive influence, which helps prevent them from falling into a life of addiction.

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Teen Detox: What to Expect

It can be scary to watch your child struggle with substance abuse. Detox for your teen can be just as scary, so it’s important for them to have a safe facility to clear everything out of their bodies and a strong support system at home — you! 

What is Drug Detoxification?

Detoxification, more commonly known as detox, is the process of allowing the body to naturally expel any drugs or harmful substances within it. This process is most beneficial when a trained medical professional is present to manage withdrawal symptoms and administer treatment. 

The detox process is different for everyone, and the length of time it takes the body to work through these substances depends on a variety of factors such as:

        • The types of substances used

        • Their genetic makeup and family health history

        • Pre-existing medical or mental health conditions

        • The duration of their addiction

        • The amount of a substance that has been taken at one time

        • The method of usage (smoking, snorting, injecting, etc.)

The average drug detox time takes between 3 and 7 days, but varies based on your child’s unique situation. 

What are the Side Effects of Drug Detox?

Drug detox can be a frightening experience for your teen. It is important to know exactly what they may experience so you can give them the support they need, from a place of understanding. Symptoms of drug detox include:

        • Anxiety or nervousness

        • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping

        • Body aches and body discomfort

        • Nausea

        • Mood swings

        • Difficulty concentrating 

Because these side effects can be severe, a medically-supervised detox is almost always recommended. Fortunately, Clearfork Academy is medically licensed to have up to eight beds for medical detox. This means that we have a team of dedicated doctors, nurses, and a psychiatrist on hand to ease this process for your child. 

We have medical protocols in place to handle each symptom at varying severities. That includes medical rounding, medical intervention, and medication administration to lessen some of these symptoms as necessary. 

How Does Clearfork Academy Handle Drug Detox?

Our first priority when handling a teen going through detox is to ensure their medical stability. The drugs are allowed to flush out of their bodies so restore health to their organs and brain before we begin next steps. Detox may remove the impurities from your child’s body, but it is not enough by itself to keep them healthy long term. 

Clearfork Academy also addresses the heart and mind of each teen to facilitate lifelong recovery. Our therapeutic process encompasses one-on-one sessions, group therapy, and the deeper exploration of their unique thoughts and feelings. The psychological part of their addiction needs to be discussed as well. Our multi-step approach to drug detox is focused on immediate medical care, but also the mental and emotional care that must be completed afterwards to ensure lasting success. We take care of the medical aspects of their recovery first so that we can focus on repairing their self image, confidence, and address the factors that led them to drug abuse in the first place. 


If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at, or visit our website at!

Want to learn more? Click here to check out our YouTube Channel

Are you wondering if your teen may have a substance abuse problem? Download our free “Teen Substance Abuse 101” guide. This comprehensive guide will walk you through discovering if your child has a substance abuse problem, and what to do next! Download your free guide here: Download Now
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12-Step Program for Teens

Let’s jump right in and answer two of the most common questions we get asked:

  1. Is Clearfork Academy a faith-based program? Yes. 

  2. Does Clearfork Academy use the 12 steps? Also, yes!

That’s right, Clearfork Academy is a faith-based, 12-step recovery center for teens struggling with substance abuse and mental health. On our campus, the 12 steps are posted on our wall, and are reviewed every evening. We also have group meetings on Saturday mornings. At the same time, our treatment modality is Christ-centered. While others may struggle to blend faith and recovery, it’s what we do best. At Clearfork, our Founder/CEO (Austin Davis, LPC-S) completed his undergraduate degree in pastoral ministries and went to seminary. He then earned a Master’s in Divinity as well as a Master’s in Counseling. With the help of his background, we are able to seamlessly combine the faith-based aspect with the 12-step program. We offer our teens a well-rounded curriculum with health and recovery always being our #1 priority!


“I love the 12 steps! The first three steps are very God-focused. He’s going to restore me to sanity, He’s going to take care of my problem and then I’m going to have to have an understanding of who this God is. That’s where Clearfork brings such a unique position on this. We’re going to bring in that ‘faith stuff’ from my background and education. When we talk about ‘the God of our own understanding’, it’s going to be the God who saves. It’s going to be the God who restores. It’s going to be the God who provides. It’s going to be the God who desires praise and relationship!”Austin Davis, LPC-S, Founder/CEO


At Clearfork, we want our teens to have an understanding of who God is and what God does as they work through the 12 steps. Teens in treatment at Clearfork Academy aim to complete one of the 12 steps each week so they can receive their chip before they leave campus! We also encourage them to continue going to meetings, and to get a sponsor after they’ve completed treatment with us.


If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re happy to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at, or visit our website at!


Are you wondering if your teen may have a substance abuse problem? Download our free “Teen Substance Abuse 101” guide. This comprehensive guide will walk you through discovering if your child has a substance abuse problem, and what to do next! Download your free guide here: Download Now


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Navigating The Holidays With A Struggling Teen

The holiday season is a stressful time of year for many families. If your teen is struggling with substance abuse, that stress can multiply exponentially. We understand, and you’re definitely not alone! You may have a kid at home that is fighting addiction on a daily basis. Or maybe you have a teen already in treatment. Whatever your situation, here are some practical tips to help you get through this holiday season.


For the family with a teen at home struggling with addiction:

If your teen has a problem with drugs or alcohol, the holidays can be especially hard on you as a parent. You want to celebrate as usual, but the stress and worry about your teen can take over quickly. Here are some ways you can still find joy this holiday season.


Tip #1: Let go of your expectations. 

This holiday season may look different than last years, and that’s ok. Don’t pretend that everything is ok if it isn’t. Be present in the moment with your teen and give them space to feel their feelings. (And allow yourself space to feel your feelings too! Feelings can be uncomfortable, but they are a normal part of the human experience!)

Tip #2: Accept your current reality. 

No matter who  sits around your table this year, try to find peace and joy in what you have. 2020 has been full of surprises! Navigating through the holidays with an addicted teen can be equally unpredictable. One day at a time, your family will get through this!

Tip #3: Find gratitude in the small things. 

Oftentimes, our minds gravitate to what isn’t right about a situation. This year, I challenge you to intentionally look for the good throughout the holidays. Thank God for the little blessings. You have been blessed for many years, and substance abuse cannot take that away! 


For the family with a teen already in treatment:

If your teen is in treatment for substance abuse, we know it’s especially painful being separated during the holidays. Looking back on holiday traditions that your teen is missing this year is hard! We empathize with you, and we want to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Remember when we mentioned that feelings are good and normal- despite being uncomfortable at times? Allow yourself the space to feel the uncomfortable stuff, while also reminding your brain of what’s true. When you feel down, remind yourself that the truth is that your child is in the right place, getting the help they need so that they CAN be a part of all of the holidays to come! Here are some tips to help you through this difficult season.


Tip #1: Be encouraged.

Know that your teen is right where they’re supposed to be! They are busy doing the work that must be done to restore their health. It’s hard, but it is worth it! The ultimate goal is for your teen to be sober, full of joy, and back on track. That’s exactly what they’re working on while in treatment! 

Tip #2: Relax while you can.

You don’t need to worry about your teen. They aren’t sneaking off to get high, or going to parties with kids that are a bad influence… Not this year! Take a breath, and realize that the responsibility isn’t on you this holiday season to keep them out of trouble. You don’t have to monitor their every move. You can rest easy, and know they are safe in recovery. 

Tip #3: Stay the course.

We know it may be tempting to pull your child out of treatment during the holidays. You miss them, and you want to be together. It’s so important to remember that leaving treatment too soon can result in huge setbacks. (Even if you’ve seen improvements.) The health and recovery of your teen likely depends on them staying in treatment. They must complete the course set before them! Remember, you’re sacrificing this holiday season so your family can have the next 20, 30, 40+ years of holidays together!


If your son is in treatment at Clearfork Academy, know that he is loved and well taken care of here! Our boys are being treated to some delicious holiday meals, and fun activities. Your son is putting in the recovery work, and finishing what he started. He is busy learning, growing, creating new habits, and ultimately- getting healthy!


If your teen needs help, don’t put it off any longer! Don’t wait until after the holidays, time is of the essence! At Clearfork Academy, our clinical admissions counselors are on call 24/7, even during the holiday season! Please reach out and let us help you take the necessary steps to get your teen on the road to recovery! Give us a call at 888-966-8604, email us at or visit our website at!


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Why Is Gender-Specific Treatment Best For My Son?


At this point, you’ve either already decided that your son needs treatment, or you are very seriously considering it. Either way, you’re at a fork in the road and doing your best to research and collect information. You’ve found yourself on this blog because your son is struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. You want the very best treatment for him, and so do we! 

When it comes to selecting a treatment center, there are tons of factors to consider. We believe that finding a gender-specific treatment center is absolutely critical to your son’s recovery.

Let’s face it, teenagers are easily distracted by the opposite sex. Gender-specific treatment allows our ‘boys to be boys’ without the distractions that can arise from co-mingling. Our goal is to create a safe environment and eliminate distractions so that your son is able to truly heal and recover. As a parent, you can expect the best results for your child in a gender-specific treatment program. Here’s why:



Teenage relationships with the opposite sex often create a sense of insecurity. In a treatment environment, we want to create as much safety and security as possible. When kids feel safe, they begin to open up about the emotional things that they might not usually discuss. That openness is such an important part of the recovery process.



When we remove the emotional ups and downs of teenage relationships, we can provide a more stable environment. That stability gives teens a chance to focus on their health and recovery.  



At Clearfork Academy, we treat teenage boys ages 13-18. We remove the distraction of the opposite sex, and focus on the specific needs these boys have. They’re able to bond with their peers and our staff in a unique way because of the gender-specific environment. This leads to better outcomes and better long term results.


Consistency throughout the course of treatment gives us that gender specific autonomous focus on our boys each and every day.” – Austin Davis, LPC-S, Founder/CEO


If your son needs help, we would be happy to provide the safe and stable treatment environment he needs. Call to speak with our clinical admissions specialists at 888-966-8604, or visit our website at for more information.


For more resources on gender-specific treatment, please visit-

A message from our Founder/CEO, Austin Davis LPC-S

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5 Signs That Your Teen May Need Substance Abuse Treatment


Parents frequently ask us, “How do I know if my teen needs treatment?” We have compiled a list of five common signs that your son may in fact need clinical treatment:


1. Loss of self-control 

Mood swings, stealing, abnormal behavior


2. Thoughts of getting high throughout the day 

An inability to focus, craving the use of substances


3. Withdrawing from normal activities 

Instruments are collecting dust, he’s dropping out of sports, and other extracurricular activities


4. Using more often, or in larger quantities 

Possibly experience withdrawal symptoms when not using


5. Using substances even when it affects relationships or puts him in danger

Unable to prioritize anything above the need to use


Have you been seeing some of these signs and symptoms in your teen? You’re in the right place! If you’ve been asking yourself, “Is it really that bad?” or “Does he actually need help?” The truth is, you probably already know the answer.

The bigger question may be, “Am I ready to send my teen to treatment?”

We know that as a parent, this is scary and difficult. Can we just take a moment to encourage you? You’re not alone! We’ve worked with thousands of families from all over the country in your same situation. There is hope! You may be feeling overwhelmed, but our staff is trained and ready to help your son step into recovery! 

If the 5 warning signs above sound like what your son is going through, don’t wait! Get your teen help now. We have multiple treatment options available to fit their needs, whatever they may be.


→ Intensive Outpatient: This option is typically best for those in the early stages of addiction. We will customize a plan to fit your teen’s needs, and provide them with the guidance they need to overcome addiction.

Residential Treatment: If your teen is suffering from a severe addiction, inpatient treatment is the way to go. At our 80-acre Texas Ranch, we can provide a safe place for them to begin the recovery process. Their treatment will include full-time therapy, and daily activities led by our trained professionals.

→ Medical Detox: This is the first step towards clearing the body of substances so the mind can begin the treatment process. If your teen needs to detox, we have a medical staff that will customize and oversee their care to ensure health and safety.

→ Academic Sober Living: After completing our primary treatment, if your teen needs a longer term solution, we are happy to offer that option.

Are you still wondering if your teen may have a substance abuse problem?

Download our free “Teen Substance Abuse 101” guide. This comprehensive guide will walk you through discovering if your child has a substance abuse problem, and what to do next!

Download your free guide here: Download Now

Our clinical admission specialists are standing by, ready to provide you with professional guidance on your unique situation, please call us at 888-966-8604, or visit our website at!