Parents tend to put a lot of faith in their children but most still worry of that faith is enough to protect them from the dangers that lurk in the outside world. Is my kid going to get caught up in the dangers of drugs and alcohol? This is a common question that plagues many parents. A study that was printed in the Archives of General Psychiatry showed that nearly 80% of teens have abused alcohol and more than 40% have experimented with illicit drugs. Parents would love to know if there is a way to predict if there kid falls into those percentages or into the ones that just say no.
Addiction, in any form is a disease and there are several factors that contribute to it. First, the strongest link is the genetic link. Are there people in your family that suffer from addiction? Remember, addiction does not always indicate drug abuse. People are commonly addicted to sex, gambling, shopping, or even gaming. If there are any genetic links such as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles then your child can be four times more likely to inherit the disease of addiction than someone else.
There are environmental factors as well that greatly contribute to addiction. Parenting style and family dynamics are also extremely relevant. How parents handle certain problems with their children early on also plays a key role. When children are young and exhibit impulsive behavior or seem to be thrill seekers, how parents handle those behaviors can alter the outcome when they are teens and have to make decisions about trying drugs or not trying them. These kids seem to be at a higher risk when their parents seemed to ignore or overlook these behaviors.
Another factor that can be indicative of future addiction problems is high stress levels. Kids that have higher stress levels are at an increased risk. Also, kids that are often bored are also at a higher risk of becoming addicted. Other issues that increase the risks include teens that are depressed or have anxiety, personality disorders, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These teens often will later be dual diagnosis patients. The mental disorder surfaced first and when left untreated the teen will use drugs or alcohol to mask it.
Teens that do not have close supervision are also placed at a higher risk of developing an addiction at some point. These kids are not alone though because kids who do not have close or active relationships with their parents, parents that lack in disciplinary skills, homes where there are great deals of conflict, or parents that have extremely high expectations of their kids are also placing their kids at a higher risk.
Another thing that is really important to watch for is who your teen is hanging out with. Kids who have friends who use drugs are at a very high risk of trying them. Another thing to consider is that if there is drug or alcohol abuse in the home that also raises the risk factors. Kids that are neglected, abused, or that have a great deal of distress in their childhood are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Teens that have ample access to prescription drugs right in their home or the homes of friends or family are far more likely to become addicted to drugs. These kids often see abusing prescription drugs as a safer alternative because doctors prescribe them.
Kids that do not fare well in school can often be in trouble later with substance abuse. This behavior can surface in elementary school and must be handled accordingly. These problems include academic problems, learning disabilities, low grades, truancy, lack of motivation, and the inability to fit in or to get along with others.
If parents are able to sit back and really see what their kids are doing and have been doing without wearing blinders are going to be the most successful at stopping or recognizing problems of addiction and abuse with their kids. The last kind of parent you want to be is the one that says, “My kid would never do it.”