How do you know if your child has substance abuse problems? And, if so, how to talk to him and help him? Here are some answers to this thorny problem.
Did you know that experts have established various risk factors in adolescents? Although these factors do not occur in isolation and do not always lead to an addiction problem, the more of them observed in an individual, the greater the risk of addiction.
- Family history of substance use problems (addiction)
- Certain personality and character traits, including impulsivity and thrill seeking
- Aggressive or antisocial behavior
- Lack of self-esteem
- Poor problem-solving skills
- Victim of Bullying
- Early alcohol or drug use
- Mental he alth issues such as depression, anxiety or attention deficit
- School Dropout
The importance of preventing problematic drinking among teens
The human brain and decision-making abilities are in the development phase until the age of 21. TheProblematic use of alcohol and other drugs can therefore have more detrimental effects on the brain of an adolescent than on that of an adult.
Highly toxic synthetic opioids like fentanyl, found in street drugs, don't often give second chances. Flavorless, odorless and invisible to the naked eye, these substances can prove to be deadly from the first consumption. Stay alert and share these facts with your teens.
The link between mental he alth and drugs
Mental he alth issues are an important risk factor for problematic substance use for several reasons.
Indeed, some people use drugs or prescribed opioids for their anti-anxiety and calming effect, but also to lessen the negative feelings associated with depression, anxiety and other mental he alth disorders. Many teenagers report having already suffered from depression, anxiety or other mental disorders for a more or less long period.
Talking to a parent, youth counselor or doctor can help your teen find ways to manage their emotions and behaviors in a he althy way.
Risk factors at school
Peer influence at school is one of the strongest factors in teen drug use. So make sure you know the people with whom your childspend some time.
Other school-related risk factors include the following:
- Bullying or rejection by peers
- The accessibility of drugs
- Poor academic performance
The essential vigilance of parents
While friends, family, teachers and coaches can all play a role, parents very often find themselves on the front line when it comes to spotting a potential problem. In fact, nearly three-quarters of students who use opioid painkillers recreationally report getting their products at home[i].
Signs your teen may have a problem [ii]
Experimentation with drugs and alcohol is a normal part of teen development. It's important to remember that most of those who try it won't develop an addiction problem and that the majority of teens will go through adolescence – a sometimes difficult period – without using alcohol or other drugs.
That said, some warning signs should be taken seriously:
- Your teenager suddenly changes appearance, behavior or attitude towards you or other members of your family.
- He becomes more secretive and less helpful at home.
- His grades in school are dropping.
- Money disappears.
- He fits in with a new group of friends or no longer invites his old friends over.
Start the conversation. It is essential that your teen has the opportunity to speak out about peer influence and learn to say no to the alcohol and drugs offered to them.
Give her concrete tips for refusing drugs and adopting responsible behaviors. Teens should feel comfortable saying no, drinking in moderation, and engaging in other harm reduction strategies.
Talk to your teen in a calm, relaxed and positive way. Remember that young people sometimes make mistakes, and try not to overreact.
Try to understand the social and emotional pressure that can motivate its use. Focus on finding strategies to handle the situation in a positive way; don't try to scare him and try to hide your disappointment.
If you need help, consider talking to your family doctor or a nurse. In most communities, there are also organizations that can give you access to support groups or the services of professional counsellors.
Have you ever talked about drugs with your teenagers? How did it go?Share your advice using the hashtag EndAuxOverdoses and remember: the important thing is to be well informed!
[i]Centre for Addiction and Mental He alth
[ii]Drug Use Report Summary