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Does Social Media Influence Teen Drug Use?

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

In today’s world, social media is considered the first and foremost method of entertainment and communication among teenagers. In fact, the Pew Research Center’s Internet And American Life Project did a survey where they found that 81% of teens ages 12-17 check their social media accounts more than once a day.

Teens investing so much time and effort into social media inevitably influences how they think and act. Social media can easily become a problem, but does it influence teen drug use?

Perception Vs Reality.

One of the most dangerous aspects of social media is the ability to alter reality and make your life look perfect. In an environment where everything is fake, teenagers compare their imperfect lives and feel like they come up short.

They feel peer pressure to emulate what they see others doing, often drug or alcohol-related. 75% of teens report the drug use and drinking they see encourages them to try it, and out of those, 90% began seeing the images before they were 16 years old.

Peer Pressure.

Teenagers’ brains are still developing, making them uniquely vulnerable to peer pressure. A study by the National Center On Addiction And Substance Abuse At Columbia University found that teens who use social media are more likely to use drugs and alcohol than those who only use it periodically.

The study looked at 2,000 teenagers and found that 70% admitted using social media daily. Out of that 70%, teens were:

  • 5x more likely to buy cigarettes

  • 4x more likely to use marijuana

  • 3x more likely to drink

90% of the teenagers in that study said they were exposed to social media peer pressure before they turned 15 years old.

Mental Health.

Another area social media use impacts is mental health. It is known to increase depression and anxiety, driving substance abuse. Areas like social comparison and peer pressure play a large part in triggering mental health problems.

Minimizing Social Media Effects.

There are four excellent ways you can help minimize social media’s effect on your teen.

  • Stay Connected - monitor your teen’s socials and online activity daily.

  • Get Involved - get to know their online and physical friends, and discourage toxic relationships.

  • Limit Online Time - limit the amount of time they can use social media and the internet.

  • Keep Dialogue Open - Engage in conversations on the danger of drug and alcohol use and keep a safe, open dialogue.

For teen addiction help, Higher Grounds Management serving Orange County has excellent resources for parents and teens to help combat substance abuse and get them back on the right track. Orange County isn’t the only area with services to help free your teen from the prison of drug addiction.

For teen addiction help, we also offer reliable resources in the South Bay area to help your family. Social media is a powerful influence, but your teen doesn’t have to spend their life trapped by it. There is help! You can get them the care they need to break the social media cycle.


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