The relationship between mental health issues and alcohol/drug abuse in adolescents is often overlooked as most incidents that involve harmful behavior are typically blamed on emotional difficulties or intoxication but rarely both.
While mental health issues can present in the absence of substance abuse it is less common for substance abuse to appear without related emotional stressors.
Childhood and teen years are formative, filled with challenges that require adaptation and growth yet the skills necessary to manage those difficulties may not be developed. As a result, emotional pain can be experienced as depression or anxiety and results in lack of confidence and poor self esteem. Inability to manage feelings often results in behavioral problems in children and adolescents and directed toward self or others. Like adults, teens may turn to substance to cope with those feelings.