For many young people, using alcohol, drugs, or other substances, such as cigarettes, is just part of growing up. Many of them try these substances only a few times and stop, while others may continue to use them on a more regular basis. There are many reasons why teens havecuriosities, and experiment with alcohol or other substances – “I’m bored, curious, stressed, depressed, can’t sleep, want to fit in, want to seem older…” It’s important that you, as a parent or other caregiver, understand the “why” behind teen substance use. You can be on the lookout for what might tempt your child to try alcohol or other drugs and intervene if necessary. There is no single reason why teenagers use substances but here are some of the more common ones.

1. Other people

Teenagers see lots of people consuming various substances. They see their parents and other adults drinking alcohol, smoking or vaping and sometimes, trying other substances. Also, a teenager’s social scene may revolve around drinking and using marijuana. Sometimes friends urge one another to have a drink or smoke marijuana, but it’s just as common for teens to start trying a substance because it’s readily available and they see some of their friends enjoying it. In their minds, substance use is a part of the normal teenage experience.

2. Popular media

When teens see people drinking alcohol in movies, popular shows and on social media, seemingly without consequences, it appeals to them.  Be aware of the media that your child is consuming and talk to them about it.

3. Escape and self-medication

When teens are unhappy and can’t find a healthy outlet for their frustrations or a trusted friend, they may turn to substances for relief. Depending on which one they try, they may feel wonderfully happy or energized and confident. The often-rough teen years can take an emotional toll, sometimes causing depression, so when teens are given a chance to take something to make them feel better, many can’t Resist. For example, some teens misuse prescription medicine to manage stress or anxiety. Sometimes they misuse prescription stimulants (used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD) to provide additional energy and the ability to focus when they’re studying or taking tests. Others misuse prescription pain relievers and tranquilizers to cope with the pressures of school, their social lives or to handle emotional stress.

4. Boredom

Teens who can’t deal with being alone, have trouble keeping themselves occupied or crave excitement are prime candidates for substance use. Not only do alcohol and marijuana give them something to do, but those substances help fill the emptiness they feel. Further, they provide a common ground for socializing with like-minded teens, a way to instantly bond with a group of kids.

5. Rebellion

Different teens choose different substances to use based on their needs. Alcohol may be used by an angry teenager because it can make it easier to act out. Hallucinogens (e.g. mushrooms, LSD) are also escape drugs, often used by young people who feel misunderstood. They may long to escape to a more idealistic, kind world. Smoking cigarettes or vaping can be a form of rebellion to show their independence. The reasons for teenage substance use are as complex as teenagers themselves.

6. Instant gratification

Alcohol and other drugs work quickly. The initial effects often feel good. Teenagers may turn to substance use because they see it as a shortcut to relieve negative emotions like feeling anxious, depressed, upset or bored.

7. Lack of confidence

Many shy teenagers who lack confidence report that they’ll do things under the influence of substances that they might not otherwise. This is part of the appeal even for more confident teens; you have the courage to dance if you’re a bad dancer, or sing at the top of your lungs even if you have a terrible voice or kiss the person you’re attracted to. Substances tend not only to loosen inhibitions but also lower social anxiety. Not only do you have something in common with the other people around you, but there’s the idea that if you do anything or say anything stupid, everyone will just think you had too many drinks or smoked too much weed.

8. Misinformation

Perhaps the most avoidable cause of substance use is inaccurate information. Nearly every teenager has friends who claim to be experts on various recreational substances, and they’re happy to say that the risks are minimal. Educate your teenagers about substance use, so the get the real facts about the dangers of drug use.

How do I help?

You’ll likely have many talks with your teen about drug and alcohol use. If you are starting a conversation about substance use, choose a place where you and your teen are both comfortable, and a time when you’re unlikely to be interrupted. It’s also important to know when not to have a conversation. When parents are angry or when teens are frustrated, it’s best to delay the talk. This is uncharted territory for both you and your teenager. There are many unknowns. This is a delicate situation that requires a dedicated and methodical treatment plan to be practiced immediately. Professional assistance is generally advised at this stage, being that it is crucial to apply treatment in the early stage of a teens drug, or alcohol, abuse to assure success.

Can-Am Interventions specializes in working with families and individuals who suffer from addiction(s). We will work directly with you and your family to help educate, and to create the best path forward for recovery. Contact us today to receive clarification, treatment options and guidance in the recovery of your teenage child.

For More Information:

E: patti.pike@canaminterventions.com W: www.canaminterventions.com

1-800-638-1812 Toll Free Internationally 415-827-3725 Cell /Text 415-578-2875 Office

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