Why Teens Develop a Drug Addiction
For parents and family members who discover that their teenager has developed a drug addiction, there can be a lot of anger and confusion. You doubt yourself and wonder if you somehow failed at parenting. You wonder if it’s all downhill into some terrifying Hollywood version of strung out criminals.
First off, chill out.
Don’t start beating yourself up because that won’t help your teen get out of this mess. Adolescence is a very challenging time in a person’s life and critical to growth into adulthood. The stresses and new social situations can cause them to behave in strange and rebellious ways, that’s just what it means to be a teen. As a parent, you must work for understanding and communication at all times. You’re not dealing with a child, as the media would like you to believe. You’re dealing with a young/new adult who is learning how to live and behave in the world based on everything happening around them.
Here are some of the triggers that turn teens to drugs:
The teen years are all about your relative role in peer groups and how you respond to social situations. If a teen is having trouble fitting in or making friends, drugs and alcohol are often the best way to break down those barriers and get into the crowd. Getting in with a drug group is often easy; you just smoke up with them and you’re in. Helping your teen define him/herself and learn to make positive friendships is a major benefit to helping them avoid serious drug problems.
In Over their Heads
Sometimes it seems like they’re just going to “try it” so their peers will shut up about it already. But that’s rarely where it stops. Teens think they’re indestructible and on top of the world so it’s easy for them to charge into something without realizing the full consequences. (That’s the stuff we learn in adolescence.) If your teen has gotten in over his/her head with a drug group, it’s time to pull them out of that group environment and get them involved with a different social circle and, of course, drug counseling and recovery. They won’t always know when they’re overpowered and outmatched.
Almost all addiction is rooted in trauma of some kind. Drug and alcohol use is often a way to try and numb the pain or ease the anxiety a person feels in social situations or just getting through life. If your teen has a serious drug problem, it’s important to get them help for the addiction but it’s even more important to talk to them and help heal the emotional pain going on inside. Otherwise, that pain will drive them to further substance abuse down the road.
Sometimes a teenager doesn’t have the interests of his/her peers and gets bored or craves attention. Drugs carry a certain exotic stigma that can be appealing to a rebellious personality who may get some kicks out of being the accomplished drug user of his peers. These individuals will find some way to rebel and define their individual identities so it’s important for the adults around them to guide them down the safest paths of self-expression available, rather than the easy route of being the druggie.