High school can be fun but also stressful. Students can feel pressured to get good grades, find a good career, and “fit in”. And the pressure of “fitting in” can sometimes mean giving into things that you never thought you would do, including drugs.

I am a senior in high school and have had many experiences feeling pressured into doing things that I knew were not good for me. I’ve experienced pressure from my friends and others to do drugs but have not given in, although the challenge is there everyday. I hear about drugs at school, at work, and when I am with friends. I have learned how to deal with this challenge from my own experiences, but how do other teens tackle the challenge?

Throughout my high school career, I have matured and learned who I am through the mistakes I made. I have seen the consequences of using drugs from my close friends: their grades tend to suffer, relationships at home become distant, and they become frustrated with themselves.

Some things that I think influence teens to become involved with drugs are friends, groups at school, and media.

Peer pressure is a major factor in teen drug abuse, and sites like www.howtohelpadrugaddict.com discuss this issue in depth.

Friends can open the door to drugs because of the peer pressure. One of my close friends told me how she was introduced to drugs. One night, her friend wanted to come over to her house along with a few others. Once there, they revealed they had brought along marijuana and hoped to use it at her house since no one was home. Her friend eventually convinced her and she watched not knowing what to do. “Why don’t you join us?” her friend asked. “No thanks,” she said. Then her friend explained that if she did not join them, they would leave her. She felt threatened and eventually gave in.

Self-imposed pressure can also be experienced. Groups at school can influence a teen to take part in drugs. The desire to “fit in” can be intense. Throughout my earlier years in high school I heard about “popular” kids going to parties and getting high on drugs I have never even heard of. I used to think that if I wanted to be “popular” too, I needed to act and look how they did. So, I bought clothes that made me look the same, styled my hair the same way, and did everything else in order to “fit in”. But although I wanted to look like the others, I did not want to act like the others and put drugs into my body. I knew what would happen if I did. I have seen what my friends went through and it does not look like fun to me.

I didn’t want to let go of my goals and future, nor do I want to hurt myself along with my family and friends. I want to be myself and control what I do, and not let something else control me.

And then there are the pressures inflicted from media, especially music. Although I enjoy listening to mainstream hip hop and R&B, I’m beginning to notice that some of the music is not what I’d call appropriate. Some songs promote drugs and alcohol — even aired over school dances! Many teen listeners don’t think the content of the music is a big deal.

I have a 14 year-old sister who listens to the radio and blasts music over her iPod. Some of the songs are about drugs and alcohol, but she doesn’t understand what it is truly about. I explain to her why it is not something she should be listening to. Her reply? “It does not matter, it’s not like I’m going to go and do it.”

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