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Teen Girls Use Alcohol and Drugs to Cope

In a world where there’s a drug available to treat everything from thinning eyelashes to erectile dysfunction, it’s no surprise to learn that some kids are growing up believing that the answer to all their problems can be found in a bottle.  And according to a report released by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, girls are particularly vulnerable to the “drugs make everything better” mentality.

Based on data from the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), which surveyed more than 3,200 kids in grades nine through 12, the number of middle and high school girls who drink alcohol has now surpassed the number of boys who do – 59% compared to 52%.   And while both groups saw an increase in drug and alcohol use, boys and girls were found to have very different reasons for turning to illegal substances:  While 41% of boys said that “parties are more fun with drugs,” two thirds of the girls say they smoke, drink and do drugs to cope with stress.

Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, says that thanks to television advertising, kids are growing up believing that where there’s a problem, there’s a drug to fix it.

“We’ve become a society that basically says, ‘If things aren’t perfect in your life, take a pill.’  This causes our young people to see drugs as an answer.”

And whether the drug of choice is alcohol, marijuana or prescription medications, the fact that girls are self-medicating to deal with stress is troubling.  Why do our daughters feel so much pressure?

Are we seeing a pampered generation having difficulty dealing with real life because they’ve been sheltered and coddled throughout their childhoods?  Or are girls reacting to the stress of trying to conform to the unrealistic expectations of beauty and achievement that has been thrust upon them since they were toddlers? Or are they simply emulating their parents, who themselves often depend on prescription drugs and alcohol to help them make it through the day?

Image: michi003/Flickr

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