Ultimately, the best forms of addiction prevention start at home. Kids who grow up with a strong sense of self, healthy self-esteem and clear personal goals are far less likely to be swayed by peers, negative messages in pop culture and community environments that are not conducive to success. Thus, far more than efforts to educate teens on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, a loving and supportive environment can prevent addiction in many ways.
Assessing The Likelihood Of Addiction
It is the important to note, however, that there are plenty of teen addicts who come from strong, supportive families that are attentive to their needs. This reality points strongly to the fact that there are other factors at play when teens choose to become users. Addiction is often attributed to a range of pre-determined and internal factors such as:
- Genetic predisposition
- Chemical imbalance
- Chronic depression
- Early exposure to drugs, including secondhand exposure
When children have relatives who have suffered from addiction, they might be taking subconscious cues from the displayed patterns of behavior. There can also be physiological characteristics that make youngsters likely to use, especially when there is a history of abuse in the family that is genetic in nature. Teens who are prone to depression are often prone to seeking external solutions to their internal problems. Early exposure to drug use, such as watching a parent who is dependent upon pills or suffering secondhand exposure to certain substances can also increase the likelihood of future substance abuse issues. Studies have also shown a link between childhood ADHD and future drug addiction.
Aggressive Strategies To Prevent Drug Abuse
In addition to showing their kids love and support, parents can aggressively work to prevent drug abuse by encouraging their youngsters to find activities and interests that they can immerse themselves in. Teens and pre-teens who suffer from prolonged bouts of boredom due to unstructured activities and schedules are far more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol than those who belong to sports teams, have hobbies or participate in other group-based activities. It is also important to note that participation in structured activities is also a major part of personal goal-setting. Kids have the opportunity to discover various areas of interest and to start formulating future life plans.
Open Lines Of Communication
As with sex, drug addiction can be a tough topic for many parents to broach. They are often reticent to candidly share their experiences and life lessons. When teens come of age, it is important for their guides and role models to tell the truth, in the clearest possible manner. Current anti-drug campaigns tend to be most effective in deterring young adults from substance abuse given that these are wholly committed to showing all of the negative developments that can arise from the decision to use. Parents should note that drugs and alcohol are often glamorized in pop culture and that in this glamorization there is little mention of tooth loss, bone density loss, brain damage and transmission of sexual and blood-borne diseases. If parents have negative events and life lessons to share, they should share them. This is often far more effective than simply issuing empty warnings or stating statistics. More importantly, honesty on both sides of the equation will usually encourage teenagers to be more forthcoming about their thoughts, fears, and opinions.
Every child needs at least one good friend. It is easier for parents to maintain some modicum of control over who their kids associate with by choosing the environments that they spend the majority of their time in. This again points to the importance of having extracurricular activities to engage in. When parents enroll their children in goal-oriented and enriching activities, their teens are far more likely to associate with like-minded peers who are eager to pursue active paths. Fortunately, programs for personal enrichment can be found for kids from families at all income levels. Scholarships and tuition waivers can be sought as can low-income recreational facilities that host events and training specifically for financially disadvantaged families.
Identifying Health Problems
Chronic depression in teens should not be simply written off as a sign of fluctuating hormones. The inability to produce sufficient serotonin can lead many youngsters to seek quick ways to remedy perpetual gloom on their own. Having your child seen by a doctor will make it possible to detect chemical imbalances that can be corrected through the use of prescription medications or by implementing a range of important life changes.
Addressing Addiction Concerns Head-On
Far too many parents, administrators and community leaders fail to take immediate action when drug use is suspected. Parents have the most control in moderating the activities of their children and addressing drug-related concerns. 42% of all substance abuse treatment facilities offer on-site screening that can be used in these instances. There are also home testing kits and mobile testing services that can be utilized when abuse or relapse is suspected. Identifying the signs of a problem early on and creating a plan to resolve it is essential for preventing a fast downward spiral. The longer that a child uses, the more his or her self-esteem, physiology and future are likely to suffer.
Teachers and community leaders have a range of additional challenges when it comes to addiction prevention. When these individuals serve as the sole source of positive reinforcement, however, they can point teenagers towards programs and resources that are designed to be both preventative and enriching. In these instances, the ideal measures to take are assisted goal-setting, activity building, and life planning. When young adults have a determined path to follow, sufficient self-esteem for taking right action and strong guidance, they are far more likely to avoid these issues.