One of the biggest questions that parents of teenagers ask about drugs and alcohol is how they can prevent their teens from developing an addiction in the first place. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are a number of factors that can put a teenager at a higher risk of developing a problem with drugs and alcohol – but there are also correlating protective factors for each of these that parents and others in the teen’s life can implement to protect the child.
There are a number of different factors that can lead a teenager to abuse drugs and alcohol, ultimately developing a lifelong drug dependence. However, what constitutes a risk factor for one child may not endanger another child. Everyone is unique, at different stages of their lives, and their reaction to various issues at a given time based upon other experiences and personality traits will be the ultimate determinant when it comes to the development of drug and alcohol addiction. According to NIH, some risk factors include:
- Early aggressive behavior. This risk factor is usually seen in early childhood and is an individual rather than an environmental issue.
- Little parental supervision. When parents aren’t around or available to provide children with support during their early years, they often turn to other influences for guidance – those influences aren’t always the most positive.
- Peer drug and alcohol abuse. If kids have friends who abuse drugs and alcohol, it is more likely that they will try these substances and use them regularly.
- Availability of drugs. If kids and teens are offered drugs or find that they are readily accessible, they are more likely to abuse them.
- Low income. Living in poverty or in very low-income circumstances is statistically shown to be a risk factor, but this is usually a factor only when other risk factors are present as well.
Parents who see one or more risk factors for drug abuse and addiction in the lives of their teen need not panic. For each one, there are protective factors that can be implemented to help teens avoid the pitfalls of drug dependence. For example, early childhood aggression can be addressed by parental and teacher support. Parents can make more of an effort to be active in their children’s lives even if they have to work and make sure that their kids are not left to raise themselves. Knowing the friends your teenager is hanging out with can help ensure that they are choosing positive peers. Helping them to learn how to handle the inevitable peer and environmental pressures as they arise will give them the tools they need to make positive choices on their own.
If your teen is already experimenting with drug and alcohol abuse, you can help them turn it around with early intervention and treatment. Contact us at Newport Academy to learn more about your options in care.