The amount of teens using drugs in the U.S. is a startling too many! In 2012, studies found that there was a 20 percent increase in drug use of teens. This included 23 percent of 18-year olds, 17 percent of 15 year olds and a shocking 6 percent of 13 and 14-year olds using drugs. The most commonly used drug by teenagers is marijuana and alcohol-though “club drugs”, prescription drugs, cocaine and meth are also ranking high. Unfortunately, the risk factors of certain teens remain a part of the problem.
Risk Factors for Drug Addiction
The following risk factors are most common and by assessing them, you can help prevent your teen from drug use and addiction. If any of these are true for your teen, they may be more likely to face addiction.
Addiction in the Family – Having a family history of substance abuse or addiction is one of the biggest risk factors. If your teen sees close family members struggling with addiction, they have a higher risk of it as well.
Stress – All teens deal with stress and not all teens have this risk factor. However, some teenagers have a higher amount of stress in their life, which puts them at a higher risk. Keep the communication flowing with your teen; if you spot signs of stress in your teen be sure to try to find ways to help them relieve their stress. Occupying them with activities and letting them know they have a support system can help to prevent them from turning to drugs and alcohol as an option.
Mental Health Issues – If your teen struggles with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, they are also at a higher risk for addiction. The best way to battle this is by getting them proper care and therapy for their mental health condition.
Lack of Supervision – One thing you do have complete power over is how much supervision your teen has. It has been known that teens with minimal supervision and lack of involvement from parents or guardians tend to reach for drugs faster than others.
Peer Pressure & Bullying – All teens deal with peer pressure on some level, so keep an eye out for who your teen spends their time with. Friends who use drugs are a big risk factor for teens. Ask questions and get involved with your teens choice of friends. Also, bullying is on the rise at our schools. If your child feels marginalized or bullied at school, you don’t want them turning to drugs to feel “cool” or as a way out. Be sure you consistently have conversations with your teen that will give you insight into their life and well being.
Trauma – Finally, teens that have had some sort of trauma in their life are prone to drug abuse and addiction. This can be physical, emotional or psychological trauma that can lead to drug use, and ultimately, addiction. Be sure to get your teen help if they have dealt with a traumatic experience.
While it can be scary assessing risk factors and finding that your teen meets any of them, it also helps you know what steps you need to take to protect your child from a lifetime of addiction.
What has been your experience with teens and addiction? Share your thoughts with us.