The teenager years are typically a time of experimentation, irrespective of a parent or carers influence.

Why do teenagers take drugs?

There are many reasons that a teenager may turn to using illicit substances, these include:

  • Peer pressure or the need to be a part of the group
  • Socializing with friends
  • To escape emotional or physical pain
  • Curiosity or experimentation
  • Boredom
  • To medicate themselves for examples drugs could be used for relaxation, to go to sleep or to have more energy
  • To build muscles

What drug are teenagers mostly likely to take?

A national survey in completed in 2013 found that 72% of teenagers aged between 12 and 17 were abstaining from drinking alcohol. Below is an infographic from the ADF, based on the 2013 survey, which gives you an overview of the types of substances teenagers are using. 

As a parent you may be worried about your child taking drugs such as methamphetamines (speed or ice), heroin and cocaine. Alcohol is still the leading substance used by teenagers. Other substances include:

  • Illicit drugs such as cannabis
  • Tobacco
  • Inhalants such as paint or glue
  • Medications
  • Performance enhancers such steroids.

What is the impact of drug abuse?

There are a number of potential effects of drug abuse ranging from short term to long term, including physical, psychological and potentially legal issues.

Some of the physical and behavioural concerns are:

  • Overdose: This may lead to organ failure or potentially death.
  • Long-term use can lead to many effects on the body’s organs.
  • Dependence of the drug/alcohol.
  • Impairment of reasoning and judgement and lowered inhibitions can lead to sexual promiscuity and participating in risky behaviours that may lead to injury, imprisonment, or death.

Some of the psychological concerns include:

  • Brain impairments – can lead to learning difficulties, and memory loss.
  • An exacerbation of any existing mental health problems or a potential trigger for the onset of mental health problems.

What are some of the signs that my teenager might be abusing drugs?

There are a number of different signs to look out for dependent on what your teenager may be abusing. Check out http://www.drugfree.org to get more information on what you can look out for.

What do I do I suspect my teenager is taking drugs?

Talk to them. Educate yourself. Seek professional assistance.

For more information:








Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.(2013). National drugs strategy household surveys (NDSHS). Australian Government. Retrieved from:http://www.aihw.gov.au/2013-national-drug-strategy-household-survey/.

Drugs Campaign - Information for parents - Reasons teens use. (2014). Drugs.health.gov.au. Retrieved 28 October 2016, from http://www.drugs.health.gov.au/internet/drugs/publishing.nsf/content/parents3

Why Do Teens Drink And Take Drugs | Kids Helpline | 1800 55 1800. (2014). Kids Helpline - Parents. Retrieved 28 October 2016, from https://kidshelpline.com.au/parents/tips/drugs-and-alcohol-the-facts/