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Drugs & Health Blog

Real Teens Ask: Drugs and Socializing

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

Being a teen is tricky, and sometimes we all wish for a quick fix when we’re feeling awkward or out of place. At NIDA’s last Chat Day, we got this question from a middle school student in Maryland:

"Can drugs affect the way you socialize?"

It’s true that some drugs and alcohol can affect your social skills—in some not-so-positive or safe ways. Some people think that using drugs or alcohol is a good way to relax and be more comfortable in social situations, like at a party.

But sometimes after taking drugs or drinking alcohol, people may do or say things they normally wouldn’t. And they regret it later. Drugs can change the way the brain works, disrupting the parts of the brain that allow people use to weigh risks and benefits when making decisions.

Impaired decision-making can lead anyone down a dangerous path.

NIDA has worked in the past to let teens know how using drugs can lead to poor decisions, which in turn can lead to something as serious as contracting HIV. Take a look at these videos about a girl who uses drugs at a party and gets HIV.

The inability to make smart decisions because of drugs or alcohol could also put you at risk of riding with someone who is drunk or high and shouldn’t be behind the wheel. Even “socially smoking” cigarettes can damage your health. 

Stay true to you.

Long-term drug or alcohol use and addiction also can affect your ability to socialize. Someone who is doing drugs likely has relationships that are suffering because of it, hurting most the people who love them.

Addiction means that a person cares more about getting the drug than they do about anything else, including family and friends. People who use drugs a lot may lose interest in things they used to like and even in how they look or how they are doing in school or sports.

So tell us: What are some drug- and alcohol-free ways teens can stay confident and have fun in social situations?

Update: Fewer teens are smoking and drinking, which means fewer teens have to worry about drugs' impact on their social life!.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Are you serious with this? Of course drugs affect your brain. thats why people use them. That's the point. ;Telling "teens" that drugs affect you is like telling your kids that dinner will make them less hungry. Your missing the important thing here. PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THERE OWN ACTIONS. Your telling these kids that drugs will MAKE THEM make bad decisions. Negative on that ghost rider. I've never heard of a mind control drug yet other than Roofies and that shouldn't be used recreationally anyway. Sure drugs make you more accepting of ideas but ultimatly your life is judged by your decisions. Tell a cop you peed on his leg because your drunk and your still going to jail. The law doesn't account for you being influenced by something so why should you be able to? [Phrase removed, per guidelines] Teens know what your talking about so just tell em the truth. DRUGS MAKE YOU THINK YOU ARE INVULNERABLE. BUT YOU'RE NOT SO ACT LIKE IT.

@SpikeR You make some good points. Drugs do not “MAKE” you do anything, but, as you say, “drugs make you more accepting of ideas.” They can also lower your inhibitions and alter your perceptions, which can affect your ability to make decisions. While “people are responsible for their own actions,” certain substances can make it harder to make the decisions that are right for you.

@SpikeR Drugs do not “MAKE” you do anything, but, as you say, “drugs make you more accepting of ideas.” They can also lower your inhibitions and alter your perceptions, which can affect your ability to make decisions. While “people are responsible for their own actions,” certain substances can make it harder to make the decisions that are right for you.

I know a lot of people who began drinking or using other drugs such as marijuana, and because of such chronic use, they only choose to socialize with people who also use that drug. They are under the impression that kids who don't use won't be as much "fun" to be around because they stay sober. Only associating with others who use only perpetuates your cycle of use, which severely effects your social skills. You begin to lose sight of how to interact with other people without there being drugs or alcohol involved. I've experienced it myself with friends who simply did not know "how to hang out" with me if I wasn't using, so the friendship deteriorated. It's a sad thing, but saying that drugs or alcohol improve your social life is obviously not true.

well YOU dont know the right people that can control it. you try to make it look like all people that drink or smoke can't control their habbits which is a huge mistake on your part Sarah which is shocking -_-.coming from some one that does it every friday and still hang out with people that dont do it and they know i do it but am not high when iam with them and they have no problem with it.

Sara is relaying her experience, as you are relaying yours.

In researching our AAAS book Delaying that First Drink: A Parents' Guide, I interviewed young alcoholics who were in recovery and talked about how they started using drugs and alcohol. I found that teens who were drinking and using drugs gravitated towards others who did as well - not because their other friends rejected them or for a different kind of socialization - but for access. They found friends who could get them drugs and alcohol and went to parties where they were available. It was pretty straightforward. Usage didn't improve or deteriorate their social life, it changed it.

What you have to remember is there tends to be alcohol and marijuana at many teen parties. That doesn't mean all the kids who go are going to do them. They have a choice to be the sober kids at the party, and some are. But if they don't go to parties where both are present, they will be left out of a lot and won't be considered cool. To a teen that's everything.

I have done a lot of research on drug and alcohol use among teens, but what I've found most helpful is having two of them in my home. That's really one of the best ways to know how they think. Join us on Facebook for the Science Inside Alcohol Project from AAAS or on our blog [link removed, per guidelines].

As a teen I agree, I see many things on social media, or even with my own eyes that there is alcohol and drugs at most teen parties, but not everyone uses the things around them. Some people just go and socialize sober.

People may think that taking drugs or drinking will help them look cooler or act cooler when socializing with people, but it doesn't. The kids that use drugs or drink think that hanging out with other people that are like them and do that stuff are cool and good people to hang around, but actually they are not. People that do those things are a very bad influence on their other friends that do not choose to use drugs or drink. Those things do not improve socializing, it just makes it worse.

Its a very informative article about drugs and socializing.I will share my experience to others.

Addiction is not the only option to fun and entertainment for teens. Most of the teens in today’s era get [commercial link removed, per guidelines] to these addictions. The main reason is probably the peer pressure. It affects them mentally and physically. It’s very sad to know that teens think that drug and alcohol help them improve their social status.

steriods make your voice squeeky

quit doing drugs. play on your x-box or somthing of that sorts

Drugs and alcohol help teens socialize in that they feel more confident and relieves their stress
Drugs and alcohol make you confident at partys and stuff but it messes with your head in the future. It has made me feel awqward and unsociable in situations that i was use to doing everyday, as soon as you start feeling that awqwardness you will regret taking everything and want to be yourself again. How can i stop this???

Since drugs and withdrawal affect people differently, we can't say what the best treatment is for you. If you want to find a drug abuse treatment program, you can use the search tools at If you aren't sure what to do or just want to talk to someone, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (which helps people with all sorts of problems) at

i agree that drugs are bad.drugs make loss your focus.You may also loss parents because of drugs
thank you for your help!!!!!!!!!!
Drugs and alcohol are one aspect of life one needs to desist from. Young people need to innovate and change the world. A sober healthy mind can only take us there.