For many children and teens, addiction is a disease they have seen affect family members. They may have watched their grandparents struggle with addiction or live with parents that struggle with drug use. It is important to look at family history when addressing a child’s chances of addiction and what risk factors are in their life.
How Addiction Is Passed Down
Certain risk factors could lead to someone developing an addiction, and family history plays a big role. Studies show that family dynamics heavily influence adolescents and their behaviors, along with predispositions to things such as drug use and addiction. The most influential factors that contribute to drug use are a person’s genetics and environment.
Genetics and Addiction
There is often a misconception that drug and alcohol use is a choice. However, genetics play a part in whether or not someone is susceptible to developing an addiction. Having a predisposition to addiction means that there is a strong chance you will develop it too.
In families where the parents are chronic substance users, they risk passing down genes that make their children more susceptible to having a high preference for a particular drug. It can also impact a person’s ability to quit using by causing withdrawal symptoms to be more intense, which makes it harder to stop.
A child’s greatest teacher in life is often their parents or caregivers because children learn most of their behaviors in the environment they grew up in. Kids who grow up in an environment where they are constantly watching their parents or loved ones abuse drugs can develop learned behaviors of also using drugs in the same ways they have seen.
If alcohol or substances are lying around the house, it gives the child easier access to obtain and consistently use them. In addition to drug use, other environmental factors that can occur in the home include:
- Financial strains
- Forms of physical abuse
- Co-occurring mental health disorders
- Detachment between parent and child
Breaking the Cycle of Familial Addiction
Addiction is a complex disease that almost always requires outside help for a person to recover. When you are raised in a family that struggles with addiction, as a child, you can begin to feel like breaking that cycle. The responsibility of overcoming addiction can be emotionally and mentally overwhelming for children and teens; therefore, outside help is necessary for successful treatment. If you are a teen looking for ways to start breaking the curse of family addiction, here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Acknowledge that you need help. The first step towards overcoming addiction is admitting that you or your loved ones need help. If you are struggling with heavy substance use, don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted family member, friend, or adult. They can help you find the right resources, which may involve a residential treatment center or speaking with a mental health professional. You should always seek professional assistance when managing addiction to ensure that you are taking the right steps towards sobriety.
- Create boundaries. Addiction can cause codependent relationships with family. This can happen due to the lack of boundaries between the enabler and the codependent person. Setting boundaries with a person battling addiction will not only help prevent developing a codependent relationship. Boundaries help create rules about how you would like to be treated.
- Educate yourself on addiction. It is easy to judge the ones you love who use drugs, but addiction is a disease, and educating yourself on it will help you understand it. Many risk factors can cause someone to use drugs, and if addiction runs in your family, then chances are these risk factors apply to you as well. Substance use is extremely common as a co-occurring disorder. Take some time to research what causes addiction, its symptoms, and the best way to treat and prevent future use.
- Learn coping strategies. One of the most common reasons why people begin to use drugs is to self-medicate, which is especially true for teens. Each person who uses substances has their reasons, but there are common causes. Drug and alcohol use in teens is often used as a way to cope with: mental health disorders, stress, trauma, peer pressure, death or loss of loved ones, and boredom. Learning healthy coping strategies can be used to eliminate drug use and prevent the possibility of developing full addiction. The sooner you find help for your teen, the better chance they will have at lasting sobriety.
If you have a history of family addiction and see your teen going down the same road, it’s time to take the first step towards breaking the cycle. As a parent, this is not a task you should have to do alone, which is why Clearfork Academy is here to offer the professional treatment your child needs. Our priority in treatment is to get your child clean of all drug use, which we do through our medically supervised detoxification program. After detox, we transition them into our residential program, where they will meet weekly with our therapist and start working on the journey to long-term sobriety. Family involvement is essential to teen recovery not only because it offers a support system, but family members can learn how to create and maintain a drug-free environment for everyone involved. To get your teen the help they deserve, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.