Addiction In Teens
Not every teenager who uses substances is an ‘addict and/or alcoholic.’ Statistically, it varies in different demographics; 60% to 80% of high school students have tried or smoke marijuana regularly. Marijuana is considered a gateway drug, and the majority of those who do hard drugs have first smoked marijuana. That does not mean that the majority of those who have tried or smoke marijuana regularly will earn their seat in AA.
How Teens Develop Addiction?
Peer pressure is prominent within high schools. Adolescents easily succumb to the want of being a part of, as they are also curious; growing up is a time for exploration. Some high school students succumb to more than just peer pressure; some fall into a debilitating addiction. Not every teenager who smokes marijuana is actually meant for rehab nor needs to get clean. The signs of adolescent addiction are:
- Mood swings
- Legal trouble
- Stormy relationships with family and significant others
- Declining scholastic performance
Most of the time, parents’ instinctual response is to nurture their teens; not knowing what they are doing can be counterproductive because it enables the teen’s addiction.
Enabling is defined as “to make possible.” Parents do not intentionally ever make their child’s addiction possible. The ways parents enable their kids are:
- Sheltering a grown child so they aren’t homeless
- Paying bills for the addict
- Denying that their child is manipulating them for money to use on drugs or alcohol.
The parents who enable their teens are most likely codependent, which means a parent in a relationship with their teen while their teen is psychologically addicted to drugs and the parent is psychotically addicted to the teen. It is hard for the parent to remove himself or herself emotionally from the situation at hand in order to see what their teenager really needs in order to recover.
Adult’s Role In Teen Addiction
The teen needs to help themself, and this is where the adults come into play. Most teenagers do not go into rehab of their own will. This is because they truly don’t have a say in the matter.
- If they are under 18 unless they are emancipated from their guardians, their guardians have the final say in the matter.
- If the teen is 18 or older, they might have a say, but more than likely they are financially dependent on their guardians, and once again, the young addicts almost do not have a choice.
That does not mean young adults do not want to get sober themselves. Teens can hit their bottom (a rock bottom is when someone decides to stop digging.) and decide themselves that they need help.
Some of the teen recovery programs are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Gender-specific groups
- Sober recreational activities
- Substance abuse education
- Holistic lifestyle approach
Young people in Alcoholics Anonymous have been recognized since 1958 when conventions began for young people such as:
- ICYPAA (International Convention for Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous)
- ACYPAA (Association in California for Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous)
There is also an abundance of meetings that cater specifically to young people getting sober. The support group amongst young people is very helpfully prevalent, which doesn’t make it such a feat to get and stay sober before the age of 21.
Getting sober young is differentiated from getting sober at an older age because the feeling is ‘But I’m not done partying and/or using’ for a young person. There is also the fear of ‘I won’t be fun anymore, and no young person wants to seem boring. Fortunately, that isn’t the case because no addict is boring. Getting sober young allows for the possibility of a fresh early start to live an abundantly healthy life.