Childhood is meant to be the happiest time of a person’s life, yet it can also be a time when many individuals begin their decent into addiction. It is a terrible shame for anyone to fall into this type of downward spiral of self-destruction, but it is particularly distressing to see it happen to a young person. Below are a few of the factors that explain why teenagers may engage in this behaviour.
Adolescence Can Be Extremely Stressful
Teenagers might not have as many responsibilities as adults but adolescence can be an extremely stressful time. This is a time of rapid growth and development and hormonal changes can lead to extreme mood swings and feelings of discomfort. It can be tempting for young people to turn to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to escape this discomfort. There can also be other stresses to do with fitting in with friends and coping with schoolwork.
Young People Are More Susceptible to Peer Pressure
One of the most common reasons why teenagers start using alcohol or drugs is the need to fit in with friends. It can be very hard to say no when offered these substances because it can mean a loss of respect from peers. The pressure to experiment with mind-altering substances can be very intense and those who resist can be subject to ridicule and, potentially, bullying. The opposite can also be true as using these substance could win young people respect; it can mean they appear more independent and grown up.
Young People May Abuse Substances as a Form of Rebellion
One thing that drives young people at this stage of their life is the yearning to be seen as independent. This is one of the reasons why they can become rebellious against their parents and anyone else who tries to tell them what to do. Turning to alcohol or drugs may be part of this rebellion.
Some Young People May Have an Undiagnosed Mental Health Problem
Some teenagers turn to alcohol or drugs as a type of self-medication because they are dealing with some mental health problem. The adult can easily miss the symptoms of this condition, and the young person might not be aware that there is anything amiss either; the individual just knows that they feel better when they drink or take drugs. In the beginning it could really feel as if self-medicating is a positive thing to do, but ultimately it just makes the problem much worse.
Teenagers Can Grow Up in an Environment Where Substance Abuse is Normal Behaviour
If young people see their parents (or other adults) abusing alcohol or drugs, they could develop the idea that this is perfectly normal behaviour. Children who grow up around this type of behaviour are far more likely to engage it themselves. Even if the parents of these kids warn them about the dangers of substance abuse, they are going to be judged on their behaviour and not their words.
Some Young People Are Suffering from Abuse
Many young people are in a great deal of pain because they have suffered from physical, emotional, sexual, or mental abuse. In some instances, their experiences could have been so extreme that they now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. These youngsters could turn to substance abuse as a way to at least temporarily escape their suffering. They may not have any other way of dealing with their problems, especially if they are too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help.