According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), one in four young people (ages 12-17) who uses illicit drugs will also develop a dependency. This is a much higher rate than that for adults.
Why? No one is certain, but there are some known factors.
Heredity is one of those factors. Is there an addict or alcoholic (recovering or otherwise) in your family’s history? If so, be aware that this one factor can greatly increase your child’s chances of developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol. You should talk to your teen about this with the hoped-for effect that she will choose to be more careful.
Here are some other factors listed in an AAP web article:
- “Untreated psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and personality disorder. For these youngsters, as well as for those with untreated attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other learning problems that interfere with academic and social success, taking illicit drugs may be their way of self-medicating.
- Temperament: thrill-seeking behavior, inability to delay gratification and so forth.
- An eating disorder.
- Associating with known drug users.
- Lack of parental supervision and setting of consistent limits.
- Living in a family where substance abuse is accepted.
- Living in a home scarred by recurrent conflicts, verbal abuse and physical abuse.”
Start the conversation about drugs and alcohol early on, in age-appropriate ways. And don’t assume that just because you’ve had this talk once, that’s good enough. Young people are confronted with opportunities on a regular basis, so make sure that you leave the door open to talking with you about it.
Not sure how to begin? Here’s another great AAP article entitled “Talking to Teens about Drugs and Alcohol.” It gives great advice about a conversation that is essential to your child’s health.
Educate yourself about drugs and alcohol. Have open conversation. Don’t abuse substances. Help your teen stay healthy and free from addiction.
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