Your Path To Healing Starts at Mt. Sinai
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Why Teens are High-Risk for Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse Doesn’t Discriminate

Substance abuse affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Unfortunately, this means it can impact the lives of both teenagers and adults. While many treatments are focused on adults, studies done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that today’s teens are more willing to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

Risk Factors

The increase in substance use by young adults could be due to several reasons, including popular products like vape pens and the legalization of marijuana. The following risk factors may contribute to adolescent substance use:

Family History

One of the biggest known risk factors for addiction and substance abuse is family history. This means that anyone with a family member who struggles with addiction is more likely to also develop substance use disorders of their own. However, this is not limited to only genetics.

While genetics play a large role in family history, there are other family risks that may contribute to substance use. Some other factors include:

All of these factors can lead to mental illness in children, further leading to substance use as a young adult. Having family members struggle with addiction can deter some teenagers away from drugs and alcohol. However, it can also show them that substance use is the only way to cope in times of trouble.

Poor Parental Supervision

Addiction prevention begins in the home. There is no guidebook to being a parent, but building strong, trustworthy relationships with your teen can be life-altering. When teenagers do not have parental supervision, they are at a higher risk for addiction.

Oftentimes, teenagers and young adults are trusted to start staying home alone, allowing them to welcome their friends over. This is also around the time your teen may get their first job and begin to establish more independence. Or they may be preparing for college. While your teenager transfers into becoming a young adult and spends less physical time with you, there are other ways for them, such as emotional support and providing healthy supervision.

Talking about substance abuse with children can be difficult, but it will help strengthen the relationship. It provides an opportunity for parents to familiarize themselves with who their children are spending time with. Additionally, it allows parents to establish household rules and prepare their children if they are ever offered to try substances in the future.

Parental Attitudes

How parents view substances directly impacts how their teenagers will view them. Teenagers tend to adopt the same attitude as their parents regarding drug and alcohol use. Therefore, if a parent is relaxed and less restrictive, teens have increased use of substances.

Studies show that teenagers adopted a negative attitude toward substance use when their parents displayed a negative attitude. According to the National Institute of Health, parents are advised to have a democratic attitude with love and support to prevent substance use in young adults.

Signs of Substance Use in Your Teen

It can be very stressful as a parent to be under the impression your teen is engaging in substance use. If you notice the following behavioral changes in your teenager, you may want to talk to them about the long-term effects of substance use.

  • Decline in academic performance.
  • Disinterest in extracurricular activities.
  • Acting secretive or demanding privacy.
  • Spending time with a new group of friends.
  • Disregard for authoritative figures or consequences.

How to Help

While this can be scary to consider, there are many actions you can take as a parent to help your teenager. First and foremost, it is important for young adults to feel as though they are supported. Although you may not support their specific behaviors surrounding substance use, you can still display feelings of love, affection, and care for their wellbeing.

It is healthy to express an interest in your teenager’s life without being overbearing as a parent. This will allow you to keep track of their grades in school and who they are spending time with. You can also ensure they are participating in after-school activities to keep them busy and active.

The best means of substance use prevention is education. Take time to educate your teen on the physical and mental impact of substance use. You can also teach them how to set boundaries and say no if they are uncomfortable in a situation. Most young adults don’t respond well to fear tactics, so keeping these conversations honest and calm is important.

And as always, lead by example. Teenagers are more likely to trust you as a parent if you practice what you preach. Create a welcoming, loving environment for your teen to come home to each day, and you may notice a significant difference in their behavior.

Your Path to Healing Starts at Mount Sinai Wellness Center

Mount Sinai Wellness Center sets new standards in addiction treatment. We use a holistic approach to help our patients overcome their addiction by supporting them and preparing them for a fulfilling life outside of treatment.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, contact us online or call us at (800) 353-4673.