Teenagers are inevitably going to face temptation when spending time with friends and going to parties. It is no secret that substance abuse in teens is a major problem in society. However, no parent wants to lock their teens away and prevent them from having fun. It is important for parents to be informed and proactive to best help their teens avoid going down the path of substance abuse and addiction.
Several factors determine whether a teen faces drug abuse and addiction. Why are some teens at greater risk? Is it only genetics or are other factors involved? Read on to explore these issues and consider how parents may minimize risks for substance abuse in teens.
Family History of Addiction
Predisposition to addiction is sometimes passed from one generation to the next. Teens who have a family history of addiction are more likely to become addicts themselves. This may be caused by both environmental and genetic factors. That is, both nature and nurture may be at play.
Although some teenagers may be disgusted with an addict’s behavior and vow to never use or abuse drugs, some may be intrigued and more likely to engage in drug abuse themselves. By being a loving, supportive parent, you can help teens avoid copying the bad behavior of other family members. Also discussing the issues that surround addiction and giving your teens alternatives to using drugs can be helpful.
Undiagnosed Mental Health Issues
Teens who face undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, mental health issues are more likely to develop a drug and alcohol addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, that does not necessarily mean that mental illness caused the addiction, but mental illness might pave the pathway to addiction. Also, those who are abusing drugs may experience symptoms of a mental illness, and both mental illnesses and drug use disorders have overlapping risk factors.
If you notice your teens struggling, it is important to empower them to see a therapist. Other helpful treatments for depression or other mental illness may be necessary. Intervening early on can save your teenagers a lot of angst. It may also erase the need for drugs as a form of comfort.
If teens are unhappy with their home environment, they are more likely to use drugs and alcohol. If there is a lot of dysfunction because of ongoing conflicts, abuse, aggression from a family member, or other problems, teens may seek solace in the escape of drugs and alcohol.
While you certainly cannot control everything about your teens’ home life, there are many things you can do. Try to create a happy home life where your teens feel comfortable talking to you about any problems they face. Encourage your teens to invite friends over to your home where you can meet and get to know them. Get therapy for teens who deal with an aggressive parent or sibling.
Finally, substance abuse in teens is a complex topic. There are a lot of questions that parents have about helping their teenagers avoid drug use and abuse. Unfortunately, there are few easy answers. Focus on what you can do to help empower your teens to say no to drugs. Keep an open dialogue with your teens about substance abuse and its dangers. Provide a strong support system to help them through difficult times and strive to build their self-esteem so they feel comfortable avoiding substance abuse.
If you believe your teen is struggling with substance abuse or addiction we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based teen treatment programs.