Teens are becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol at an alarming rate, and much sooner than they have in the past. If you are the parent of a teen, it’s more important than ever before to be aware of this dangerous trend.
There are many things you can do to reduce the chance that your teen gets involved in drugs and alcohol.
This includes things like paying attention to your child so you can recognize when their behavior, attitudes, habits and friends change. You should also be aware of any family dysfunction and talk to your children about your thoughts about drug use.
However, one of the most important things parents can do to reduce the chances of your kids using alcohol and drugs is to become more aware of the risk factors. Knowing that your child may be at greater risk leads you to be more alert and focused. If your child does become addicted, the sooner you can recognize it and get them help, the more likely it is that they can return to their normal life and become healthier and happier adults.
Here are the risk factors you should be aware of. However, it’s important to note that just because your child has several risk factors doesn’t mean they ARE abusing substances. It just means they may be more susceptible than other teens.
Behavioral Problems, Learning Disabilities or Psychological Disorders
Numerous studies have proven that kids who have a different brain wiring are much more susceptible to addiction. This includes kids with ADHD, depression, anxiety, dyslexia, eating disorders or kids with self esteem, aggression or behavioral issues.
Anyone who experiences trauma in early childhood is more susceptible to addiction issues. This can include physical or sexual abuse, or even the trauma of a divorce. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s a traumatic experience to go through, it matters if your child does.
We are beginning to learn that kids today are struggling from stress much more than in the past, and much more than their parents are aware of.
By definition, the teen years are full of stress. They are dealing with hormones, peer pressure and many are struggling to find out “who they are”. Most teens go through stages were they feel anxious and insecure or they are struggling with their appearance.
They also have problems with their friends, bullying, the discovery of the opposite sex and grades.
Other kids may have additional stressors of poverty, living in dangerous neighborhoods or abuse.
All kids have stress, and some kids live in unfortunate circumstances that increase that stress. However, the key isn’t how much stress your child is feeling, it’s whether they have the ability to deal with that stress.
If they don’t have a healthy outlet to be able to deal with their stress, they are much more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol.
Poor Parenting or Family Dynamics
If your family has high levels of dysfunction, your children are at a much higher risk for addiction. As parents, you must have the ability to really communicate with your children and to properly nurture and protect them.
This category also includes parents who sanction the use of alcohol and drugs in teenagers. Some parents make the mistake of allowing their teens to drink alcohol at home under the mistaken belief that it means they will be safer and develop healthier attitudes. The opposite is actually true. Allowing kids to drink under your own roof makes it much more likely that they will progress to a full-blown addiction.
One of the best things you can do for your kids is to become better educated and more aware of the risk factors for addiction among teens. Having multiple risk factors doesn’t mean your child will become addicted, but it means you need to be even more aware of the signs so you can act as soon as possible if they arise.