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In the present day, teens are more susceptible to substance abuse than ever before. This could be due to marijuana legalization, sale of drugs on the internet, resurgence of heroin, easy availability of designer drugs, peer pressure, rising stress, and various other reasons. It is extremely hard, yet, indispensable for parents to deal with this complex issue so that their teen does not get trapped into the grim world of drugs and alcohol. And if the teen is already dealing with substance abuse, they are able to come out of it and recover completely.

We, at Adeona Healthcare, strongly believe that parents are not just the caretakers or providers for teens but are much more. We see them as partners in their teens’ lives and just as partners support one other, it is crucial that parents also do the same for their teens.

Helping teens resist the urge to use

It is important for parents to understand how they play a critical role in preventing their children from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Showing open disapproval and talking effectively about substance abuse could be instrumental in shaping a child’s behavior and attitude which is why it’s important that parents remain involved in their child’s school, sports, and other routine activities. Other steps that can be taken by parents to help their teen resist the temptation or pressure are:

  • Learning about the most important risk factors for substance use amongst teens.
  • Studying and sharing the physical and mental consequences of drug use with your teen.
  • Showing displeasure or disapproval of drug use.
  • Remaining involved in your teen’s life.
  • Inviting your teen’s friends over with the intention of understanding their circle of friends.
  • Ensuring that your teen is not under too much stress and if they are, helping them vent and manage their stress.
  • Learning about the signs of addiction and keeping a close look out in your teen.
  • Learning how to respond to such situations if your teen does develop an addiction.

Risk factors for substance abuse in youth

Parents must keep themselves updated with current drug trends and the risk factors associated with the use of these drugs. This will help parents make their adolescents understand how substance use can greatly affect one’s quality of life.

Some risk factors associated with substance abuse are:

Biological factors

  • Genes: A person whose family member is suffering from an addiction is at a 50 percent greater risk of becoming addicted because certain genes, which may be passed on as hereditary, make one more susceptible to addiction. However, this does not imply that all the members of the family would be affected.
  • Mental illness: People struggling with mental illnesses like anxiety, bipolar disorder (BD), schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression are highly susceptible to substance abuse as they rely on alcohol and drug use to self-medicate their symptoms. With time, the reliance turns into dependence and soon after becomes an addiction.
  • Gender: Compared to females, males, irrespective of their age, are more prone to drug addiction. Additionally, men are also known to visit the emergency department for overdose-related problems and death. However, studies have shown that women relapse often and also suffer cravings.

Environmental risk factors

  • Age: Previous research has established that a person becomes susceptible to drug and alcohol use in adult life if they have been exposed to the same during a young age. Throughout adolescence, multiple changes take place in the brain because of which a person cannot tell right from wrong. If during these impressionable years, an adolescent or teen falls prey to alcohol or drug use, it is likely that they will continue to use during their adult years if the addiction is not treated in a timely manner.
  • Stress: Stress is a normal part of life, however, when a person has impaired coping skills, they may not be able to handle the pressure and might resort alcohol or drugs to feel at ease. When they do this, their reliance slowly turns into dependence and then addiction.
  • Home and family: Numerous studies have indicated an inverse relationship between substance abuse and the home atmosphere. Children having indifferent and abusive family members have a high tendency to develop an addiction. They fall into an addiction to escape the feelings of neglect and emotional breakdown, gradually becoming dependent on substances to get them through the day.
  • Peer pressure and curiosity: Sometimes, a young individual might want to try alcohol or a substance out of sheer curiosity. On the other hand, they may be tempted or forced to try something because of peer pressure. In both the cases, the first innocent drink or drug use can easily lead into dependency.

Type of drug and administration procedure

  • Type of drug: Oftentimes, an individual starts their journey to addiction by using prescription drugs easily available at home. When the prescription drugs are no longer available, they might start using illicit drugs, like heroin. Once the addiction sets in, a person might experiment with other drugs as well.
  • Administration process: When a drug is snorted, smoked, or injected, the chances of an addiction setting in early are increased because injecting or snorting a drug provides an immediate feeling of euphoria, but one which lasts for a short duration. Once the feeling subsides, the person is tempted to inject or snort more to continue experiencing a similar feeling of high.

Effect of drugs on teenagers

Substance abuse can have lasting consequences on a teen’s life which can be:

  • Deteriorating grades, absenteeism from school, sports, and an increased susceptibility to dropping out of school
  • Accidental injuries, physical disabilities, risk of death, suicide, and illness
  • Unsafe sexual practices and use of other people’s needles which puts one at a high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C virus, and other deadly sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
  • Delinquency including petty or large crimes, drug peddling, driving under the influence (DUI), homicide, or other crimes in an attempt to feed the habit
  • Mental health problems like developmental lags, cognitive difficulties, depression, anxiety, withdrawal, apathy, conduct problems, personality disorders, suicide ideation, and suicide
  • Excessive alcohol and drug use often leading to stigmatization and alienation which further leads to disengagement from the family and community

Getting involved in child’s life

Parents should indulge in supportive parenting, constantly monitoring their child might help in reducing the incidence of substance abuse. Parents can get involved by limiting the amount of time their teens spend out of home at nights, helping their child with their homework, making them do chores around the house, appreciating their efforts, and making them feel loved and motivated. They should also encourage their children to limit their screen time on their phones. 

If a child looks lost or disoriented, the parent should approach them with caution and compassion, be a good listener, and offer their unconditional support. A child must be reassured that their parents trust them and would have their back regardless of the situation. Setting rules for certain activities, practicing moderate discipline, and greatly condemning substance abuse can help the child know the parents’ position in the matter. 

Additionally, parents need to lead by example. If they have differences, they should try to talk it out amicably encouraging the children to look for solutions to situations. If they have behavioral issues, they should seek professional help and strive to always be available for their children.

Signs of substance abuse in teens and young adults

There are multiple signs that can alert parents about substance abuse problems in their adolescents and teens. Some of these include:

  • Declining grades or neglecting school work
  • Losing interest in extracurricular activities
  • Changing friends and social groups
  • Change in behavior, acting secretive, stealing money, or changing clothing style
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • Impaired relationship with family members
  • Poor judgement and reduced inhibitions
  • Hallucinations, delusions, panic attacks, or paranoia
  • Red eyes, injection marks, sores, and other body impairments

Establishing early help

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a debilitating condition which may have damaging consequences on an individual’s life and unfortunately, substance use early in life leaves lasting effects resulting in growth problems, cognitive deficiencies, relationship problems, and many more long-term problems. Once identified, the earlier professional help is received, the stronger the probability of reversing the disorder and recovering is possible.

If you know a teen addicted to drugs or alcohol, get in touch with Adeona Healthcare. We are a leader in drug addiction and mental health treatment for teens aged between 12 to 17, and we customize research-backed treatment interventions for each and every patient in our care. We understand that teenage years is  a sensitive age and therefore offer delicate care in a safe and secure environment ensuring lasting recovery. For more information about our treatment modalities and how we can help your teen overcome addiction and mental disorders, call our 24/7 helpline (888) 379-9360 and speak to a member of our admissions team. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.

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