Teens and Substance Abuse
By Crystal Hampton
Unfortunately, when it comes to kids and alcohol, parents can’t just guess to find whether their kids will face problems with drinking or drug use in their teenage years. But there are biological and environmental factors you can watch out for to help you figure out if your child may be at a greater risk for addiction.
It is important to keep in mind that risk factors do not determine a child’s destiny, instead they provide a general gauge as to the likelihood of drug or alcohol use. But it is safe to say that addressing risk factors early and paying careful attention to children at higher risk can reduce that child’s likelihood of future problems with substance abuse. Understanding risk factors is also very important when a child with more risk has already experimented with substances or has a problem. These risk factors include:
- Family History
- Mental Health or Behavioral Issues
- Impulse Control Problems
The infamous teenage years are prime time for trying new things and asserting one’s independence. As teens transition into adulthood, they often become tempted by adult activities. They want to follow their parents lead, try things their friends have already done, and establish their own identities. Drugs and alcohol frequently become involved in this mix.
Teenagers and young adults get involved with alcohol and drugs for many reasons, including:
- Curiosity: They want to know what it feels like to be drunk, intoxicated, or high.
- Peer pressure: Their friends are doing it or pressuring them to do the same.
- Acceptance: Their parents or role models are doing it and they want to feel accepted by those they look up to.
- Defiance: They want to rebel against rules placed on them.
- Risk-taking behaviors: They want to send out a call for help.
- Thrill-seeking activities: They want to experience something other than numbness.
- Boredom: They feel there is nothing else to do, and trying drugs or alcohol gives them a feeling of excitement.
- Independence: They want to make their own decisions and assert their own independence.
- Pleasure: They want to feel good. Teens are dealing with a heavy mix of emotions, and drugs can help numb any pain and make them feel better even when times are tough.
It is important that those working in teen drug and alcohol use prevention work to spread the word about the consequences of drug use, such as cognitive impairments, the dangers of driving under the influence, developing physical dependence and addiction, as well as social and legal problems. Teens who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction and dependence do not have to suffer alone. There are several treatment options available, many of which are designed exclusively for teens and the unique challenges they face. There are many treatment options out there for teens struggling with substance abuse such as:
- Detox Facilities
- Individual or Group Counseling
- Family Therapy
- 12 Step Programs
- Inpatient Rehabilitation Treatment
- Outpatient Rehabilitation Treatment
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment
- Treatment Centers Specifically for Teens
It is important that those working in teen drug and alcohol use prevention work to spread the word about the consequences of drug use, such as cognitive impairments, the dangers of driving under the influence, developing physical dependence and addiction, as well as social and legal problems.