There are many theories about the beginnings and root causes of addiction, and research suggests that genetics and environment can increase the risk of young people experimenting with alcohol, tobacco and drugs. While as parents, teachers and health care providers can provide all the right surroundings, love and support, the reality is that many teenagers may at some time be goaded by peer groups to try addictive and harmful illegal and legal substances. Research suggests that in fact the younger a person is when they try alcohol for the first time, the more likely they will develop an addiction.
“While cannabis often gets the called the gateway drug, it is actually alcohol, widely legal in the developed Western world, that seems to be a real indicator of future experimentation. If you find out that your teenager has been using recreational drugs or alcohol, you may wish to seek advice online” said Daniel Gerard of Addictionhelper.com.
“Schools may have strict policies in regards to illegal substances but you may wish to let them know to gain their advice and support if they offer it. Your GP is confidential and may, if you wish, be able to refer your child to get the appropriate support”, said a spokesman for UK-Rehab.com
If you are worried about your child, the following signs may help you find out if drinking alcohol or taking drugs could be the issue:
Change of appearance
Change of friends
Change of interests
Change of eating and sleeping habits
Change of mood
Change of behaviour / lack of openness with you
Teenagers and older children often become more secretive as they get older and start to experience hormonal changes. It is important not to jump to conclusions or panic if you think your child is harming themselves.
Things to remember when talking to your child:
Make time to listen – as much as you may have conflicting emotions, try to avoid asking the question, why? This can make a conversation turn defensive.
Respect your child and allow them to talk at their own pace.
- Don’t Blame
Don’t play the ‘Blame Game’ – you may be looking for a reason and an excuse that your child has been abusing drugs or alcohol. Try to avoid this – denial is no good for anybody, especially your child who may need support.
Be open and frank – talking about prohibited substances doesn’t lead to abuse, and it is important that you provide a place to feel safe and non-judgemental. Your child will respect your attempts to appear supportive and this will help in the long run.
You can always ask others for support in talking to your teenager and it is useful to get to know your child’s friends and involve yourself in this testing time. The most important thing is for you to educate yourself on the best course of action and to know the facts in regards to New Psychoactive Substances or Legal Highs, Alcohol, tobacco and prohibited drugs. Websites such as Frank can be a great starting point. Communication is the biggest key to keeping a good relationship with your child through their teenage years.