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Drug and alcohol abuse lands many Missouri teens in the juvenile justice system. The issue is a complex one because there isn't a single reason why teens choose to use substances. Rather, there are a myriad of reasons that lead teenagers into abusing alcohol and drugs that are as different as the teenager's personalities are.

Some teenagers use drugs because they are bored. Those who have personalities that make them desire excitement all of the time are most at risk for drug and alcohol abuse due to boredom. Others use drugs because they are unhappy and want an escape from reality.

Some teens are followers and use drugs or alcohol because they see other teens doing so. They may also see scenes romanticizing drug and alcohol use on popular media. These teens use drugs to fit in or to appear cool to their peers. Shy teens may rely on drugs or alcohol in order to act more confidently, as the substances may remove inhibitions they otherwise have. Teens who are rebellious may try drugs simply to spite their parents and to assert their independence. Some may also use alcohol and drugs because they are misinformed and believe the risks are minimal.

Parents should sit down with their teenagers and talk frankly about drugs, alcohol and the risks they have. In some cases, teenagers will go to parties where alcohol is served to them. They then get behind the wheel to try to drive home, committing underage drinking and driving in the process. When parents are straightforward with their teens about their expectations, many teenagers respond positively. Teenagers who are charged with underage drinking and driving may need to see if a criminal defense attorney can arrange for them to avoid detention while getting them the help that they need.

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