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NIDA. (2011, September 1). Real Teens Ask: Drugs and Socializing. Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
September 1 2011
A diverse group of teens sitting on and around a picnic table

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!.