When addiction hits, it hits hard. When it grabs hold, it’s a battle to get free. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the severity of your vice, or how long you’ve been involved with it.
Further, addiction can be particularly devastating for teens. Too often, teens find themselves stuck in a cycle of substance abuse and addiction without any hope of breaking free. While every teen responds differently to an addiction problem, there are some common reasons why some teens are more prone to addiction than others.
Poor Impulse Control
It all goes wrong in the brain’s ability to control impulses. According to research, certain brain parts, like the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex, are still developing at this age, so they are at a disadvantage compared to adult brains.
Therefore, teens cannot resist the impulse; instead, they’ll do something terrible if it feels good at the moment. They may also lack the ability to think through the consequences. Teens don’t always realize that their actions can have long-lasting effects.
The teen brain has trouble making good decisions because it can’t understand real consequences and can’t figure out how much distant rewards matter. Therefore, teens act without thinking about the outcome of their actions, such as texting while driving, which puts them more at risk for addictions than adults.
Scientists have found that differences in individual genes can affect how the brain responds to addictive substances and how fast the body breaks down. For example, genes can make some people prone to addiction. This means two people can use the same drug, but one person can become addicted while the other does not. Therefore, some teens seem to be able to “try” a drug without becoming hooked, while for others, even “experimental” use can lead to addiction.
Family History of Addiction
Another factor that might make some teens more likely to try drugs is exposure to drug use by family members or friends. Children who grow up in homes where parents abuse drugs are more likely to abuse drugs as teenagers. According to studies, teens exposed at a young age are more likely to fall into patterns of early substance abuse and
When it comes to low self-esteem, the effects on developing brains can be devastating. Teenagers who lack confidence tend to use alcohol and drugs to improve confidence, though this is only temporary. Unfortunately, this false sense of security makes many teenagers continue substance use.
Therapy can help build teens’ self-images and teach them coping skills for negative emotions before those feelings lead them to drug experimentation. In therapy, teens learn that healthy living choices enhance self-image. Therapists can also work with teenagers on social skills that lead to stronger peer relationships and higher quality friendships with less risk of being pressured into drug experimentation or use by having friends who don’t drink or take drugs.
Stressful events — like parents’ divorce, a death in the family, or moving to a new place — can cause stress. Due to chronic stress, too many teens start drinking or using substances to mitigate the stress. Teens who have experienced more stress than others are more likely to use drugs to cope.
Abuse and Trauma
Many teenagers have experienced abuse or trauma. These experiences affect a person’s brain development, making them more vulnerable to addiction. Teens who have experienced abuse or trauma need extra support to avoid addiction. Common causes of trauma among teens include:
- Parents’ divorce
- Loss of a sibling, parent, or another loved one
- Sexual, physical, or mental abuse
- Parents neglect
- A catastrophic accident or weather event
- Bullying by their peers
Lack of Parental Support and Supervision
Most parents work long hours. Consequently, teens could feel neglected. In other cases, parents may be absent from the home due to incarceration, divorce, or death. Thus, they can’t monitor their kids’ activities or hold them accountable for their actions. This leaves teens without any accurate guidance and supervision from an authority figure in their lives. Without parental supervision, teens are susceptible to harmful influences.
Mental Health Disorders
Mental health professionals can treat mental health problems and co-occurring disorders successfully using therapy like group therapy or CBT and medication. Such an approach helps remove the need for self-medicating through drug or alcohol use. If you think your teen might have a mental health disorder, talk to them about this possibility and consider getting help from a trained professional like a therapist or psychiatrist who can help guide them towards recovery from their substance use disorder (SUD) and their co-occurring mental health disorder.
Some experts believe that genetics, environmental influences, or a predisposition toward risky behaviors can lead to teen drug addiction. At Clearfork Academy, we believe that in order to prevent SUD, parents must educate themselves on the issue. Our programs offer various treatments for adolescents struggling with SUD or mental health disorders. Our team facilitates the healing of teens through trauma-focused care, on-site academic courses, adventure therapy, and various therapeutic modalities tailored to meet each teen’s needs. Our fully qualified clinicians understand how challenging it can be for parents or guardians who have a teenager dealing with addiction or mental health conditions. We can help you and your family climb this mountain of recovery from SUD. Stop enabling your teen’s behaviors. Instead of enabling your teenager, seek professional help at a reputable treatment program like Clearfork Academy. To find out more about evidence-based treatment, contact us today by calling (888) 966-8604.