There is no greater joy than when you first set your eyes on your baby. The first time they smile at you and warm your heart is unforgettable. The first time they hold on to your finger with their chubby little hand causes tears to fall.
You swear to always protect them from anything and everything that may harm them. Yet, it doesn’t always work out that way. Somewhere along the way, you missed something, and now they’re struggling. Now, during their teen years, they are struggling with an addiction.
Their lives have been sent off-kilter as they lose control of their thoughts and behaviors. You want to help them, but how? Well, the fact that you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that you’re on the right track to finding help.
This article is geared towards helping people understand teenage addiction. With understanding, you can deal with the issue from a place of knowledge and increase your chances of success. Below, we take a deeper look into teen substance abuse.
What Exactly is Teen Substance Abuse?
From the name itself, one can derive that it is when a teenager going through adolescents engages in substance use and abuse. Adolescence is usually a very difficult period for both the teenager and the parents. Teenagers usually go through increased physical development, as well as emotional changes.
This alone can throw a wrench in the parent-child relationship. During teenage years, they tend to be more adventurous and want to experiment and experience life.
As they chase their current desires, they often want their parents out of the picture. Due to little or lack of any supervision, some tend to fall into some bad habits, such as drug and substance use.
Commonly Abused Substances
A teenager is likely to abuse any drug or any type of alcohol. This is true as long as they have easy access to them.
This then begs the question, which drugs are these that are so readily available to them? Are some of them in your house, their very presence a temptation to your son or daughter?
- Nicotine – cigarettes and tobacco products
- Alcohol – beer, liquor, wine, and other alcoholic drinks
- Prescription drugs – prescription drugs found within your medicine cabinet can be abused. For a teenager that is looking for a way to self- medicate their emotional distress or forget a certain trauma, such drugs are dangerous. Be sure to store them in a less accessible place.
- Illicit drugs – Given the fact that you can’t be with your child 24/7, keeping them from such drugs can be difficult. What you can do is ensure that your children surround themselves with good influences.
Illicit drugs include Cocaine, Opioids, Marijuana and Ecstasy just to name a few.
What Causes Substance Abuse in Children?
When parents discover that their children are engaging drug or substance abuse, it can be devastating. However, understanding the cause of their behavior can help in the treatment process. Below are the top causes:
- Peer pressure
- Family history
- Low self-esteem or low self-worth
- Mental disorders such as depression and/or anxiety
- Easy access to drugs, especially narcotics
- Certain drugs tend to be cheap
- Exposure to emotional, physical, psychological and mental abuse
Is Your Teenage Child Abusing Drugs or Alcohol?
Your teenage child is all of a sudden secretive. They keep disappearing at odd times in the day and hardly explain their absence. If you ask them about it, they get angry or even violent.
At this point, you can’t help but ask the question: is my child abusing drugs or alcohol?Below are a few telltale signs to look out for:
- Behavioral changes such as:
- Mood swings
- Extremely secretive
- Depression and/or anxiety
- The decline in academic performance
- Lack of interest in any type of activity, including their hobbies
- Avoids social situations or family events
- Biological Changes such as:
- Physical Changes such as:
- Changes in weight
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in one’s sleep patterns
- Hygiene deterioration
- Bad breath
- Skin breakouts
- Changes at home such as absenteeism in the house or during family events. If you’ve noticed a change in their schedule as well, you should be on the lookout. Observe how they relate to you and other members of the family as well.
Are There Any Risks to Teenage Substance Abuse?
There are consequences to teenage substance abuse. In the same way, it can ruin the life of an adult, so can it do the same to a teenager.
The consequences of drug and substance abuse are often as hard on the child as they are on the parent. The consequences can be social, physical and even mental. Getting help for the problem as soon as possible is advised.
Below are a few of the risks when teenagers engage in substance abuse:
- The teenager is likely to engage in sexual behavior. Under the influence of a substance, they are less likely to practice safe sex. Hence, the consequences may include early pregnancy, STDs, HIV and/or AIDS.
- There are some teenagers that abuse substances in an attempt to self-medicate. However, research shows that doing so can only make things worse. This is especially true if the teenager is struggling with mental health disorders.
- Car Accidents – Driving under the influence of a drug substance or alcohol is very risky. It often leads to road accidents that can either take the teenagers life or that of another. The accident can also leave the teenager physically impaired, either temporarily or permanently.
- The teenager’s academic performance will suffer considerably
- The teenager is likely to grow dependent and get addicted to the substance or drug they are using. Being under the control of a certain substance will affect their behavior and lead to criminal activity.
At least 70 to 90% of teenagers are exposed to substances or drugs. It is up to them to either stay away or succumb to them. Increasing awareness of the dangers of substance abuse can help decrease the chances of engaging in it.