Not Always the “Bad Kids”
When we think of drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers, we sometimes think of the “bad kids,” the kids with failing grades, the ones with foul language, the ones with their pants hanging down off their rear ends, and the ones who live in the rougher neighborhoods. We figure most of the kids that are getting into drinking and drugs probably come from single-parent homes, have parents that don’t necessarily care about them, or come from families where there are too many kids for the parents to monitor effectively. Of course all of those situations are great breeding grounds for teen substance abuse, but they are, most certainly, not required, nor are they exclusively responsible for teen addictions. Here are a number of other factors that can contribute to teen substance abuse that should not be overlooked.
Teens with Biological Anxiety – Anxiety is very biological in nature and gets inherited by children of anxious parents. A nervous grandparent or two, or three, may guarantee an infant a multiple dose of genetic anxiety right from Day 1. When an anxious child gets into the teen years, a well-intentioned friend may offer them a drink or a joint, telling them that it will help them relax. Chances are, it will, and they will feel a reduction to the anxiety they have been carrying their whole life. It’s really easy for a teen like that to get carried away, using substances daily, just to manage the anxiety.
Unpopular Kids – Some kids have grown up being unpopular. They’re never the one chosen for games or to be invited to birthday parties. They don’t have a lot of friends, and they don’t fit in very well. Well, sometimes, they find themselves at a drinking party, they have a fair amount to drink, and they suddenly become the center of attention. Kids who have never spoken to them before start saying, “Hi” to them in the hallways and for someone who’s never had that before, that is really hard to give up. You can expect they’ll be at the next party, ready to be even wilder and crazier, if it can keep the attention going.
Kids with Very Successful Parents – It’s hard to be a teenager. You’re trying to figure out how your body works, how romantic relationships work, how to balance school and social events, and you’re starting to think about your future. It can be very intimidating, especially if you have two parents who are busy making it all look completely effortless. The child of a high school principal and a stock broker may feel incredible pressure to perform and succeed. A child of two police officers may feel overwhelming fear of getting into trouble. The children of high-ranking officials may feel the pressure of the public eye. These are all stressors that can easily lead a teen to seek comfort in the bottle or the pipe.
Children of Married Parents who Both Work – In many loving families where both parents are hard-working, planning for their childrens’ futures, the parents may be away from home much more often then they are at home, leaving kids lonely, unsupervised, and possibly, feeling abandoned. These kids, from good families, may turn to drug- or alcohol-abusing friends for companionship, and just accidentally pick up a drug or alcohol problem along the way.
Kids who Have Been Overprotected – Some parents have a very clear idea of exactly how dangerous the world is and have made it their mission to protect their children from all manners of harm that could come their way. Perhaps they have not allowed their children to watch “R-Rated” movies, have cellphones, use the computer, or stay over at friends’ houses. Although their intentions may have been good, if a child has not ever been allowed to do anything, as soon as they get out from under the watchful eye of the parents, they may be very tempted to try everything there is to try, including some very quickly-addicting chemicals. A kid like that might jump right into crystal meth use, when they hadn’t even had a history of using anything else prior, and once they get into that, they are in serious trouble.
Kids with Family History of Addictions – Sadly enough, parents can do everything according to the parenting experts and still end up with a teen who develops a drug or alcohol problem, especially when there is a strong family history of addictions. Even if the mom and dad never drink, if several aunts, uncles, and grandparents were destructive alcoholics, drug-addicts, problem gamblers, or otherwise suffering from addictions, the child is that much more likely to develop a serious problem after experimental use than their peers who might try something a time or two and then walk away from it.
In conclusion, it’s not enough to just look out for the “bad kids” when it comes to your children and substance abuse. A parent of teens needs to keep his or her eyes wide open during the time that teens are particularly at risk for developing addictions they may end up battling for a lifetime.