New Transitions = New Risks - News Article

New Transitions = New Risks

The excitement of starting a new school year is typically accompanied by anxiety as well – especially for kids starting their first days of middle school or high school. We want this to be a fun, exciting time for our kids, but parents and caregivers also need to be aware of the risky behaviors their not-so-little ones may be exposed to.

Substances like alcohol, cigarettes and sometimes marijuana make their first appearances in middle school. According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future study, by 8th grade, 23% of students drank alcohol, 10% smoked cigarettes, and 13% used marijuana. The risk only increases as kids get older. Among 12th grade students, 61% drank alcohol, 38% smoked cigarettes, and 45% said they had used marijuana in the past year. Prescription drugs also become a concern for high school students.

Why do teens use these substances? As an attempt to:

  • Ease anxieties
  • Loosen up at social gatherings
  • Relax when stressed or to “stop feeling” when sad or depressed
  • Fit in or give in to peer pressure
  • Improve academic or athletic performance
  • Lose weight or gain muscle
  • To simply get high, take a risk, or satisfy their curiosity

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