5 Causes of Drug Addiction in Youth

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Do you have a child who you are afraid may be experimenting with drugs? Maybe you already know your child is using drugs and you are baffled as to the reasons why they may be doing that. Understanding the causes of drug addiction in youth can help parents and other loved ones get kids the help they need and turn their lives around before it’s too late. We’ve laid out five causes of drug addiction in youth to help you consider what may be going on in your family and what your next move should be.

Peer Pressure Is An Easy Way To Cause Drug Addiction in Youth

Teenagers are particularly susceptible to peer pressure. That age group proves to be a time of great change and discovery about who adolescents feel they are and want to become. A teenager who wants to be accepted into a new peer group may be willing to do things they don’t normally do, including using drugs. Some peers try to convince them that drug and alcohol use puts them in the company of “cool” kids and shows they are more mature or willing to be rebellious. 

An adolescent who already deals with low self-esteem or feeling like they don’t belong anywhere can be susceptible to this kind of peer pressure. If trying or regularly using drugs buys them entrance to a popular peer group or friendships with kids they admire, they are often willing to pay that price. Even within a circle of friends they have already known for a long time, using drugs can become popular, and peer pressure happens there, too. Their youth and lack of life experience shield them from the reality that beginning drug usage is akin to playing with fire. What may start as a fun way to pass time with friends can quickly turn into an addiction. 

Escaping From Reality

Teenagers live in turbulent times just in terms of trying to deal with adolescence, puberty, and world events. Sometimes experimenting with drugs can seem like a quick fix to avoid the more stressful moments in their day-to-day lives. If that same teenager also has complications in their life that are painful, they can end up as one of the causes of drug addiction in youth. These complications can include living with parents who have an unhappy marriage, general family discord, poor health, financial problems in the family, and other events. 

While adults experiencing these sorts of problems might have the foresight to seek help or use mature problem-solving skills, young people often lack the ability to do either. They may not know how to tell someone what’s wrong or don’t feel brave enough to ask for help dealing with their troubling situations. Young people in this situation often find that escaping into drugs helps them cover up their painful emotions. When that tactic begins to fail, they often increase the number of drugs they use and how often they consume them. This can quickly lead to addiction before they know what’s happening.

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While many of the causes of drug addiction in youth come from events going on in a person’s life, sometimes genetics come into play. Studies show that the children of addicts are eight times more likely to become addicts than those whose parents are not addicts. In addition, several studies support the idea that addiction is caused by genetic predisposition about half the time. 

Parents who know that addiction runs in their family should make sure to monitor their kids as they’re growing up for early signs that they may be entering the world of drug usage. Catching this early and seeking treatment can save a lot of years of poor emotional and physical health. 

Family History

Another cause of drug addiction in youth has to do with young people mimicking what they see around them. Children who grow up around family members who use and abuse drugs in order to cope with life often mimic those behaviors. They may take it for granted that this is how adults deal with their lives, especially when multiple family members have a history of addiction. A parent or guardian who abuses drugs in absence of having healthy coping skills often passes that philosophy on to their children. It takes treatment for addiction to help the child learn to develop the ability to face hardships and become a successful adult without turning to drugs.

Coping with Mental Illness

When teenagers develop mental health issues, they often don’t know the source of their problems or how to ask for help. Mental illnesses such as depression, panic disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others can be so cumbersome that young people turn to abuse drugs to help alleviate the symptoms. About half of all people who have a mental illness also end up abusing drugs or alcohol, making it imperative that parents be on the lookout for both conditions. 

Los Angeles Treatment Center For Drug Addiction in Youth

Parents want the best for their kids and finding out they may be addicted to drugs is scary. Launch Centers offers substance abuse and mental health treatment for young people. We provide a focus on education, including high school and college courses, to help your child keep up their studies while they get sober. 

Contact Launch Centers now and let us help your child stop using drugs and live up to their full potential. We know how to make your family whole again. 

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

staff member drug alcohol treatment los angeles

Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

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Eric Chaghouri, MD


chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.

  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.


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