No parent wants to see his or her child succumb to addiction and need to go to rehab. But you don’t need to wait until your kid becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol to take action. Some people are more vulnerable to addiction than others, and that vulnerability manifests itself as a series of personality traits. If you know the signs that your son or daughter is at risk for addiction, you can take action before your child needs addiction therapy. Let’s take a look at some of the signs that your son or daughter is at risk for addiction, and what you can do to intervene before it’s too late.
1) Your Child Likes to Take Risks
Adolescent brains secrete lower overall levels of dopamine when compared to adult brains, but when they do secrete it, it’s in much larger amounts than adult brains. This means that it takes more effort and more novel, interesting experiences for teens to achieve the same feelings of reward and pleasure that adults may feel simply from eating a favorite food, spending time with friends and loved ones or doing a good job at work.
Most teens are constantly looking for new, exciting experiences to give them this dopamine high. It’s part of the process of growth that prepares them for life as adults. If you notice your teen increasingly engaging in risky behaviors, or if he or she seems bored, redirect that dopamine drive to new, interesting and stimulating activities and hobbies before he or she starts experimenting with drugs and starts down the path to addiction therapy. It’s ideal if these hobbies give your teen the chance to learn new things or achieve new goals – even if it’s just beating a video game.
2) Your Child Seems Depressed
It’s normal for teens to be moody from time to time, but depression is cause for concern. If you think your child is too young to suffer depression, think again – depression affects people of all ages. It’s been documented in kids as young as three years of age, and even in infants. If your kid complains about being tired all the time, sleeps too much or too little, or experiences sudden appetite changes, it could be depression. If your child doesn’t get treatment for his or her mental health symptoms, he or she could turn to drugs and that will ultimately lead to the need for addiction therapy, as well as mental illness treatment.
3) Your Child Is Anxious
Anxiety, too, can drive teens to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, often to the extent that they wind up needing addiction therapy. Children who strive to be the perfect students and athletes – and who get upset when they fall short of their own expectations – are often children who suffer from anxiety and are desperate for approval. Encourage your child to pursue interests of his own outside of school. Don’t punish your child too harshly when he or she fails, and don’t go overboard on rewards when he or she succeeds. Make it clear to your child that you love him or her unconditionally, and he or she will develop an internal drive to succeed that is not based on a fear of disapproval.
4) Your Child Fails to Cope with Difficult Emotions
If your child avoids dealing with tough or painful emotions, he or she is setting him or herself up for substance abuse later on. Repressing your feelings isn’t easy, and many people turn to drugs or alcohol in order to achieve it. In fact, most, if not all, of the people who wind up in our addiction therapy program say that they originally started using drugs to cope with hard emotions.
Your child needs to learn to express his or her emotions in order to live a healthy life. Teach your child healthy ways to express his or her feelings by articulating your own feelings out loud when you experience them. Cope with your own feelings in healthy ways.
5) Your Child Lacks Social Skills
Friendship and supportive social connections are important for people of all ages, but teens especially need to feel as if they fit in with a peer group in order to be happy. If your kid doesn’t seem to have any friends or seems to prefer being alone, you need to figure out what’s going on before your kid turns to drugs. Whatever the problem is, your child will be better able to cope with it if he or she doesn’t have to deal with getting addiction therapy, too.
Avoiding Addiction Therapy in The Future
Talk to your child’s school to find out if he or she is dealing with bullying or a learning disability, and you can maintain a close relationship with your child. Talk to your child about your own childhood social problems, and reassure him or her that eventually, these feelings will pass.
Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, our children end up needing addiction therapy anyway. We can help. Call 888-415-0708 to learn more.