Confident young girl.

Girls, Drugs and Self-esteem

blog

A previous blog looked at girls and drugs, and another blog examined how drugs impair judgment and can influence the sexual decisions of young girls. Both of these posts noted that many people tend to consider drug use among kids to be a boys’ issue, but evidence shows that girls are even more at risk in some ways.Confident young girl.

But how does drug use affect young people’s sense of self-confidence? (Read more posts about youth and self-esteem here.)

A 2006 report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy reports studies showing that girls’ issues with self-esteem and body image can lead to substance abuse. This report addressed the following issues:

  • Many girls experience a dramatic transition during early adolescence marked by a decline in their self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Girls who were low in self-esteem at age 12 were nearly 2 and a half times more likely to heavily use alcohol at age 15 than those higher in self-esteem.
  • Young girls tend to use alcohol or drugs to improve mood, increase confidence, reduce tension, cope with problems, lose inhibitions, enhance sex or lose weight.
  • Research shows that girls who are vulnerable to feeling unworthy about themselves may have more trouble coping with teenage stress.
  • The use of diet pills is 2.5 to 4 times higher among girls than boys.

So here we go again. Parents, closely observe your sons and daughters. When you suspect that they may have issues with confidence, get professional help.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.