Now more than ever, teenagers need to have positive, drug free activities to pursue that keep them occupied and out of danger. If platforms like TikTok and YouTube have shown us anything, it’s that teenagers have hidden talents, endless energy, and ample time to fill, especially during the pandemic.
Boredom and Substance Use
With more leisure time and less obligations in an increasingly online world, the line between leisure and boredom is incredibly thin. As it relates to Prevention, peer-pressure and boredom, especially when experienced together, have been linked to substance use.
In addition, the pandemic has put a strain on the social structures and routines teenagers depended on for normalcy and healthy socialization. Several small studies have shown this strain has increased substance use (in frequency and dose). Although more research is needed for definitive links between at-risk teenagers, boredom, and drug use, this collection of data gives us a glance at a potential problem: teenagers left to their own devices may seek relief from boredom through substance exploration, namely cigarettes, alcohol, and cannabis.
Taken together, these issues show a potential gap in prevention strategies that not every organization, advocate, or parent may be aware of. By having drug free, positive activities available to teenagers, we may be able to reduce the temptation of common substances as some sort of alternative to being bored. So what is a drug-free, positive activity?
To us, a drug-free, positive activity is anything a person can participate in that provides those normal factors teenagers depend on: community, socialization, engagement, and structure. The drug-free part is pretty self-explanatory, but it can be combined as an essential part of the activity.
#AlabamaDFC House Party
We are happy to be a major partner of the Alabama DFC House Party, a virtual talent show active now for teenagers 13–18 with a $1,000 grand prize. By participating, teenagers pledge to remain drug free while also flexing their talent for their new adoring fans. Teenagers are encouraged to post a 1-minute video showcasing their talent on Instagram or TikTok using the #AlabamaDFC hashtag. Talent scouts will filter through the best and most-liked videos and add them to a curated playlist on the Alabama DFC House Party YouTube channel. Anyone not selected for the playlist is still in the house party, as they can cast their vote along with the general public for their favorite act featured on the playlist.
We are excited to see members of our community participate in this special event and look forward to seeing your entries. However, this is only one step in the APC’s effort to provide opportunities and resources like this to our youth. We plan to continue to expand our support for similar events, in combination with our in-school programs like our Youth Advisory Council.
The hope is that if we continue to work together as a community, to provide opportunities for teenagers that are both stimulating and engaging, they will not be sidetracked by substances. With events like the Alabama DFC House Party, perhaps teenagers can continue to find ways to stave off boredom, enjoy their leisure time to hone their talents, and continue to live happy, healthy, and sober.
Written by: Hunter Freeman