Skip main navigation

Why do we use substances?

In this video, Ina Koning explores the reasons for young people to start drinking alcohol or using drugs.
INA KONING: It’s not surprising that many young people want to try alcohol or drugs. When you’re young, you’re curious and want to try all sorts of things. However, young people use alcohol and drugs for many different reasons, such as one, a relaxed atmosphere. From a young age, most teenagers see people drinking alcohol, usually at festive occasions like a party. This can support the idea that alcohol and having a good time are connected. Two, peers, everyone is using. Whether and when you start drinking or using drugs is often strongly related to your environment and friends. It is important to be part of a group and have friends when you are young.
When your friends start drinking alcohol or using drugs, it is tempting to do so yourself as well so that you belong to the group. Three, your feeling when drinking. You become more relaxed and free. After having drunk alcohol, most teenagers experience that they become more relaxed and loose. You notice that you dare to say more and that it becomes easier to talk to the people around you. Four, to cope with bad feelings. Being under influence may help you to cope with your worries and to feel better. Sometimes teenagers start using alcohol or drugs after they went through an awful experience to get their mind off the bad memory for a while.
Problems at home or other kinds of stress can also make you want to escape from reality every now and then. So there are plenty of reasons for starting and continuing using alcohol or drugs. In the initiation phase of drinking alcohol, particularly parents but also peers play an important role.

Before we go into more detail about the risks of substance use, in this video Ina Koning explores the reasons for young people why they start drinking alcohol or using drugs.

This article is from the free online

Young People and Mental Health

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education