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NIDA

The Impact of Changing Social Behaviors on Teen Drug Use

Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, discusses how changing teen behaviors might be effecting substance use. Dr. Volkow explains how social media and video gaming may play a role in the evolving trends in teen use.

Transcript

Dr. Volkow:

The way that the teenagers are communicating have changed dramatically over the past 10 to 15 years, and it has been accelerated as of the past five years.

Social media has permeated the life of all the teenagers and we now know that teenagers spend much more time with these devices and in front of the computer that they had ever, ever done before, and that they are communicating much more electronically done in our face-to-face perspective.

We knew from all of the epidemiological studied and the studies and lessons that mirror behavior of observing other teenagers and the dynamic that exists on peer pressure when you are with other teenagers contributes significantly to the initiation and repeated drug use among adolescents among teenagers…a very powerful driver.

So the question that emerges, and we don't have answers because this has not been investigated but the question comes to mind could these changes in interaction be playing a role on that decreasing consumption of drugs by teenagers?

Because the probability of them being in physical presence of other teenagers has been decreased by the fact that now they are more interacting through the web than in person, that's one. 

I also think that we need to do research in terms of understanding how other types of reinforcers that teenagers are picking up that did not exist to the same extent amongst teenagers are actually substituting for the culture of taking drugs.

And in particular, for example, the use of video games which have actually just skyrocketed in terms of technology and the power and drive they have to capture the behavior of teenagers to the point that in certain countries like China, Taiwan, Korea…they have established clinics for treating addiction to these video games among teenagers.

Cause teenagers get compulsive about it and they relinquish their school activity their social life and they stopped sleeping and then it can be quite careful.

So you are changing the pattern of requiring compulsive options to teenagers that were not there in the past.

This page was last updated December 2016