As a parent you want the best for your child. You want him to be happy and healthy and to be successful in life. Drug or alcohol addiction is not a part of that plan. In doing the best for your child and preparing him to be a healthy, happy adult, it is important to understand what puts him at risk for addiction. Some of these factors may be out of your control, but knowing what they are empowers you and your child to prevent substance abuse and avoid addiction.
Risk Factors For Addiction
Family History And Involvement
Not surprisingly, addiction often starts with the family. Perhaps the biggest risk factor of all for addiction is having a family history. If you had an alcoholic father, your aunt was addicted to prescription painkillers or your sister abused drugs, you and your child have a family history of addiction. While researchers are still picking out the complexities of addiction, what they know for sure is that the disease has a genetic component. There is no single gene that guarantees someone will become an addict, but that family history is a major risk factor.
You can’t change your genes, but your family environment is under your control and it can also be a risk factor for your child’s future addiction. Children who have poor attachment to their parents, or whose parents are minimally involved in their lives, are at greater risk of developing an addiction. The family involvement risk factor starts in infancy when your child bonds with you and continues as your child grows older.
Mental Health And Addiction
Another big risk factor for addiction is having a mental health disorder. If your child struggles with anxiety disorder, depression, ADHD, post-traumatic stress, bipolar disorder or any other mental illness, he is at a greater risk for substance abuse and addiction. It is not uncommon for teens and young adults to self-medicate undiagnosed mental illness with drugs and alcohol. This practice often leads to addiction. Even if your child does not have a mental illness, if he has an impulsive personality he is at greater risk for addiction. Impulsivity means struggling to control his actions and seeking out stimulation.
Life Changes And Peers
Young people go through a number of important transitions: puberty, entering high school, being exposed to new social situations, and more. These transitions and exposure to new types of people and peers can have a big impact on their choices about substance abuse. Teens are most at risk for substance abuse when going through a difficult transition. And they are more likely to start using drugs or alcohol if their friends are doing it.
Making A Positive Impact On Your Child
If you see one or more of these risk factors in your child, don’t panic. As his parent you have the power to work against these risk factors. None of them are guarantees of addiction. Combat family history by developing a close bond with your child. Spend time together and talk about drugs and alcohol. Know who his friends are and meet their families. Set expectations and boundaries and tell him what the consequences will be if he experiments with drugs or alcohol.
If you suspect your child might be struggling with a mental illness, see a psychiatrist for a diagnosis and possible treatment. When you address the problem head on, you minimize the risk of your child experimenting with self-medication. There are a number of factors that could put your child at risk of having an addiction, but you as a parent are more powerful than all of them.
Don’t Be Afraid To Talk To Your Teen – If You Don’t, Someone Else Will.
Make Sure YOU Are The Strongest Influence!