Speaking with Teens About Reckless Behavior

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It is important to talk to teens about reckless behavior.

According to experts, the adolescent brain is not fully developed until a person’s mid-20s. Regardless of gender, teens lack the ability to make informed, impulse-free decisions.

Due to this lack of impulse control, teens can make decisions that are not good for them.

It is important to address behaviors before they get out of control. Social media is often filled with images of dangerous behaviors including drug use and stunts.

Talking to teens about such sensitive issues can be daunting for many parents. Sometimes, it seems easier to ignore these other influences and hope for the best. Yet, it is important to arm yourself with facts and information that you can share. One conversation may not be enough to keep them from making poor decisions.

Dangerous Stunts Can Lead to Serious Injury

Several websites encourage young people to engage in dangerous behavior. There have been instances involving homemade bombs, setting oneself on fire, and even stunts involving moving vehicles resulting in severe injury.

Experts have stated that some teens engage in risky pursuits to gain page views, perhaps fulfilling a need for acceptance.

Some of the videos that have been posted may not be as straightforward as they appear. Tricky photography or video editing may be at play. The more participants fail at their chosen stunt, the more web hits they are likely to receive. Another danger of videos, whether they are legitimate or edited, is the prevalence of copycat videos that follow.

Experimenting With Drugs or Alcohol Can Lead to Addiction

For many teens, fitting in with their friends can seem like the most important thing in the world. They want to be accepted. They want to be “cool.” When it comes to experimenting with drugs or alcohol, your teen might see this as a way to become part of the “in” crowd. There is no way to predict whether experimenting with drugs or alcohol will be a crazy thing someone did once or something worse. When an individual consumes drugs or alcohol, the substance changes the way the brain works.

Many drugs will affect the manner in which the brain either produces or metabolizes the brain chemical dopamine. Some drugs produce a chemical that imitates dopamine and therefore creates a false sense of pleasure. Other drugs increase the amount of dopamine that is produced naturally. This results in feelings of euphoria.

Dabbling Can Lead to Dependence

Dopamine is also responsible for our learning process, to some degree. As teens experiment with drugs or alcohol that affect these types of communications within the brain, they learn that using the drugs makes them feel better. This learned behavior leads to repeated exposure to the drugs of abuse.

The brain becomes used to having drugs in the system. Tolerance means higher doses of  drugs are required to achieve the same euphoric experiences. As teens ingest more drugs to achieve the “high” they seek, addiction can take hold. When this happens, the drugs of abuse may become necessary to ease the withdrawal symptoms that can cause severe discomfort, pain or illness.

To help avoid the pressures associated with drug use, it is important to communicate what can happenIt may also help them understand by pointing out the risk factors involved in addiction.

  • Has a member of their family suffered from addiction?  Genetics can play an influential role in addiction
  • Does your teen suffer from any kind of a mental illness or psychological problem?  Teens who have struggled with depression or anxiety are more prone to substance abuse.
  • How old is your teen? Your child’s age is also an indicator for addiction.
  • Has your child experienced chaos or disruptions at home?  Divorce, sexual abuse, or other trauma can also increase your teen’s chances of drug abuse

Talking to Your Teens About Sex

According to the Kinsey Institute, one-quarter of teens will have their first sexual experience by the time they are 15 years of age.  According to a 2007 study, two-thirds of all teens who have engaged in sexual activity have done so with more than one partner. More recent information has found that 15 percent of high school students in 2011 indicated they had had sex with four or more partners.

There are a couple of important aspects to teen sexual activity that parents might wish to discuss with their children. The first, obviously, is the risk of teenage pregnancy. In 1991, four out of 10 teenage girls who became pregnant were under the age of 18. The good news about is that the most recent data indicates birthrates among teenagers are declining. The birthrate for American teenagers fell 17 percent in just three years, from 2007 to 2010. This does not mean however, that teens are no longer engaging in sexual activity. It could imply that teens are taking greater precautions or have more access to birth control.

Pregnancy is not the only risk involved in irresponsible sexual behavior. There is also a risk of disease ranging from a minor irritation to life-threatening illness. According to the CDC, new cases of HIV in 2009 affected more than 8,000 teens and young adults between the ages of 13 and 24 years.

Teens often possess the notion that nothing bad can happen to them, as if they are immune. It is important to inform teenagers with statistics concerning irresponsible sexual behavior. Keeping open lines of communication with your teen can be beneficial. Therefore, let them know you will be there to help them make informed, responsible decisions.

Where to Find Help for Your Troubled Teen

If you fear for your teen’s safety, now is the time to get the help you need. Parenting is challenging enough. Sometimes, reckless or destructive behaviors require treatment. You don’t have to do it alone.

Our staff here at Newport Academy specializes in treating teens who suffer from mental illness and behavioral issues. We have treated kids at high risk. We offer a safe and sober environment and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a team of experts on your side.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.