Substance abuse and addiction issues are a clear and present danger for anyone at certain points in their life unless you are able to keep control of these impulses, which is something that seems to be particularly challenging for some teens.
There is a pathway to recovery when someone struggles to maintain control and this might involve seeking out inpatient care for addiction, for example.
The big question is why do teens, in particular, seem to have a difficult time resisting substance abuse in the first place?
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Here is a look at some of the potential reasons why teens are especially vulnerable to this issue.
The numbers speak for themselves
Your formative years can often be challenging in a number of different ways as you try to cope with the transformation from a child to a young adult and all of the things that come with that, such as puberty and, relevant to the topic in question, the issue of peer pressure.
It is estimated that almost 90% of addictions start in a person’s teen years and that figure overwhelmingly highlights exactly how high the risk is that someone in that age group could become addicted.
It can be easy to dismiss these risk factors by assuming that a teen is just behaving typically in terms of experimentation and it is just a phase they are going through.
It can certainly be just a phase where a teen succumbs to peer pressure or curiosity and tries alcohol and drugs and they don’t develop an addiction but it would also be risky to make assumptions and ignore potential warning signs that something is wrong.
Considering the huge percentage of addictions that can be traced back to teenage years it pays to be vigilant.
Identifying risk factors
Aside from the potential vulnerability that comes with being a teenager, there are other risk factors that may also come into play and could play a part in leading a teen down the path to addiction.
One of those risk factors is when there is a family history of drug or alcohol problems.
This can create a biological propensity to develop an addiction if the teen’s parents have had an addiction issue, although it can also be an influential factor if close relatives have had an addiction.
It is too simplistic, and plainly wrong, to suggest that a teen will develop an addiction because someone in their family has already been down that road, but it is one risk factor that needs considering.
Mental health problems can be a trigger
Unfortunately, it seems to be a growing trend that young adults might experience some kind of psychiatric condition such as anxiety or depression, seemingly as a result of trying to come to terms with changes occurring in their minds as well as their bodies.
It is something that is talked about more openly these days, which is a good thing, but mental health problems can also a potential trigger that leads to a teen using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
It is prudent to be aware of this potential connection between psychiatric problems and substance abuse and remain vigilant when mental health problems are diagnosed.
When a teen is considered to be a risk-taker
We all have different personalities and you can often identify a child who is impulsive and not averse to taking risks.
It has been identified that those children who experience impulse control problems could be more likely to be tempted to take the risk of trying drugs in their teenage years.
If a teen already has a profile that suggests they are impulsive this can increase the potential risk that they develop an addiction if they find it impossible to resist their impulsive urges.
Following a trend
Another potential scenario that could lead to a teen experiencing substance abuse issues is when they see other people who are influential in their life, such as parents and older siblings, regularly drinking alcohol, smoking, or taking drugs.
Peer pressure can certainly play a role and it can happen that friends encourage a teen to try a substance.
Basically, seeing someone else doing something might well encourage them to follow their lead and if they are then unable to refrain from continuing their use of the substance and can develop into an addiction problem.
It’s tough for teenagers
Social media and other modern-life influences can make things difficult for teenagers, especially if they feel that they are being excluded from social situations and feel lonely or isolated.
The danger in that situation is that a teen could turn to drugs or alcohol to counteract these negative emotions. The formative years of a teenager are not always plain sailing and they could easily view substance use as a form of escapism.
Look out for clues that this is happening, such as when a teen is spending a lot of time on their own and doesn’t appear to be interested in socializing.
Tips for Parents to Prevent or Identify Children’s Substance Abuse:
The opportunity to rebel
If someone is going to carry out an act of rebellion it is likely that this will take place during their teenage years.
There could be a lot of anger and frustration that they want to release and it can be viewed by teens that taking drugs could be a way to their rebellious nature.
There are two ways to look at this situation from the perspective of a drug. Substances such as meth have the propensity to encourage aggressive and even violent behavior, which is precisely what they might feel they want at that point. Marijuana, on the other hand, has a more calming effect and can help reduce aggressive tendencies.
This probably sums up how complicated it can be when talking about why teens have a particular problem resisting substance abuse.
However, understanding the underlying reasons could help identify when there might be a potential problem that needs to be talked about and brought into the open.