Drugs, alcohol, gambling … Are you worried that your teenager is dealing with an addiction problem? Fortunately, there are resources to help him, but to get there, you must also be able to talk about it.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE A PROBLEM OF DEPENDENCE?
Adolescence is the period of the first experiences: first cigarette, first drunkenness, first love, etc. This period is often complicated for the teenager and his entourage. It is important to maintain and assert one’s values while marking limits to not crossing and informing your teenager of the various dangers that may spread along the way. At the same time, of course, you want to encourage him on his journey and encourage contacts with the outside world.There are many reasons why young people consume cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or play games. It can be a way to relax, to face their problems, or for social reasons or curiosity. Whatever the reason, this behavior is not uncommon among young people, but it is important to recognize when a problem of dependency sets in. Dependence can be psychological (belief that one can not function without consumption) or physical (physical adaptation to a substance that leads to increased consumption to achieve the same effects and presence of withdrawal symptoms at rest). Here are some warning signs:
- frequent mood changes;
- negligence in dress and hygiene;
- feeding problems;
- repeated absences at school;
- opposition to any discipline;
- deterioration of family relations;
- change of the circle of friends;
- need constant money;
- lack of motivation;
- poor school performance;
- aggressive or violent behavior.
WHO ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE?
There are a number of factors that can be used to identify individuals who are more at risk of becoming addicted (of course, the presence of a risk factor does not automatically mean the development of an addiction problem). Here are some examples:
- low self esteem;
- impulsive behavior;
- learning difficulties;
- mental health problems;
- gang membership;
- friends with a drug-friendly attitude;
- chaotic family environment;
- history of addiction problems in the family;
HOW TO APPROACH THE SUBJECT?
It’s hard to talk about a problem of addiction with your teenager. However, it is important to do so as soon as possible to reduce the consequences and seek help if necessary. You can make things easier by using the following strategies:
- Do not act impulsively. Take the time to think before acting.
- Make sure your teen is not under the influence of any substance.
- Approach the subject calmly.
- Express what you feel about the problem instead of criticizing it.
- Speak to the “I” and not to “you”. Teenagers often have difficulty coping with criticism.
- Encourage your teen to express how he feels about the situation.
- Make him feel that you are listening to him.
- Explore the reasons that could be causing the problem.
- Do not downplay the importance of his words or feelings.
- Set limits with him.
- Do not be afraid to apply the ones you have established.
- Make alliance with him in the search for solutions.
- Also, consider other more positive aspects in your life.
- Praise your efforts and applaud his successes.
Coping with difficulties during adolescence can be a daunting challenge for parents. These difficulties are often added to the many others experienced in other aspects of your life. However, do not ignore your teen’s problems. Do yourself a favor by taking to heart his well-being and his blooming: it will help him to live a harmonious transition to adulthood.
It is important to recognize its limitations and to seek help when needed. There are many organizations at your disposal that offer services tailored to young people and their families. You can refer to a health professional who will refer you to good resources.
Adolescence, this period of transition between childhood and adulthood, is accompanied by its ups and downs. You learned how to eat, talk and walk your child, so why not teach him healthy attitudes and behaviors when he became a teenager? Once the swell has passed, you will be delighted to have invested time and energy in your well-being. And once you have become an accomplished adult, he will thank you for your efforts and your attentive support.