The last thing that any parent wants to have to confront is addiction and substance abuse in one of their children. This is perhaps every parent’s worst fear, perhaps second only to the death of a child, and often the worst fear of them all because addiction does frequently lead to death in a young adult.
What really makes matters worse is that so many parents know so little about addiction and substance abuse in general, unless they have struggled with the problems themselves at one point. This puts parents in that dreaded situation that they fear the most; the, “My child has a serious problem and I have no idea how to fix it,” problem.
Thankfully, this is not a permanent, negative condition. The first thing parents need to do when they even just suspect that their child, whether the kid is twelve, twenty-two, or even thirty-two, is abusing drugs and alcohol, is to educate themselves on substance abuse and addiction. This being done, they can proceed, knowledge as their number one tool, to help their youth and to resolve their addiction crisis.
Addiction Information: What Parents Need to be on the Lookout For
One of the biggest problems with addiction in young adults is that parents who are not educated about addiction very often mistake addiction in their kids for something else. There is so much going on in the minds and bodies of twelve to twenty-five year olds that these things can be confused for other things. However, the educated and informed parent can tell the difference. Parents should read up on addiction and study it thoroughly so they know what to look for. For example, just a few of the behavioral signs of alcohol or drug abuse are:
- Skipping class, declining grades, getting in trouble at school.
- Drop in attendance and performance at work–loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise–decreased motivation.
- Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.
- Missing money, valuables, prescription or prescription drugs, borrowing and stealing money.
- Acting isolated, silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
- Clashes with family values and beliefs.
- Preoccupation with alcohol and drug-related lifestyle in music, clothing and posters.
- Demanding more privacy, locking doors and avoiding eye contact.
- Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
- Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities).
- Using incense, perfume, air freshener to hide smell of smoke or drugs.
- Using eye drops to mask bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils.
How Prevalent is Youth Substance Abuse?
Another thing that takes parents off guard is the sheer prevalence of substance abuse in young adults today. The truth is, the age range of twelve to twenty-five is the most prevalent age range for substance abuse, with no less than fifteen percent of individuals in this age group being addicted to or regularly abusing drugs and alcohol. The national average is eight percent addicted. Furthermore, young adults have a much higher mortality rate when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse, with a young adult substance abuser having a three times higher chance of dying than an older adult has.
To make matters even worse, addiction spreads like wildfire through young adults. This truly is peer pressure at its worst. Young adults get addicted to drugs and alcohol, and they have a much higher chance of getting other young adults hooked on drugs and alcohol than older adults do. Generally speaking, currently sober and abstinent young adults have a greater difficulty with saying no to drugs and alcohol than sober and abstinent older adults do.
For a quick look at some more facts and statistics on young adult substance abuse:
- More adolescents drink alcohol than smoke cigarettes or use marijuana. It is hugely prevalent.
- Within the past month alone, no less than almost four out of ten high school seniors reported drinking some alcohol and more than one in five had engaged in “binge drinking” per se daily in the past two weeks alone.
- Drinking endangers adolescents in multiple ways including with things like motor vehicle crashes, (the leading cause of death for this age group).
- Nearly one in four adolescents has ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking recently and was unfit for driving.
- Genetic factors and life stressors definitely influence adolescents’ alcohol abuse, but parents and guardians can help by monitoring adolescents’ activities and keeping channels of communication open with their kids.
- Illicit drug use, (which includes not only the abuse of illegal drugs but also the misuse of prescription medications or household substances too), is something many adolescents engage in occasionally, and a few do it regularly too and are addicted to such substances.
- By the twelfth grade, about half of adolescents in the United States have abused an illicit drug at least once.
- The most commonly used drug is marijuana but adolescents can find many abused substances, such as prescription medications, glues, and aerosols, in the home. In fact, prescription drug abuse, (far more dangerous than marijuana abuse), has been skyrocketing in popularity, and is thought to overtake marijuana by the year of 2019.
Many factors and strategies can help adolescents stay drug free, though, so stay optimistic about it. Strong positive connections with parents for one, with other family members, with the school, and in the religion are great sources of prevention. Also having parents present in the home at key times of the day, and reduced access in the home to illegal substances too will make a big difference.
Why Substance Abuse is So Harmful for Young Adults
Substance abuse really has a terrible affect on young adults, far more devastating on average than the affects that it has on older adults. Young adults between the ages of twelve and twenty-five are still developing physically and mentally. Their brains are not finished developing until twenty-four to twenty-eight. Their nervous system is also one of the last to develop. If a young adult enters addiction or any kind of substance abuse into his or her life at this age, it is going to severely affect these systems and potentially, if it is allowed to continue, cause permanent damage. This is the main reason why it is so much more devastating for young adults, not to mention the wide plethora of other affects that addiction has on young people and not to mention everything else that such individuals tend to be going through at this time period of their lives.
For parents, getting educated is key. There is an expansive degree of information specifically tailored for parents about addiction in their kids, this site included. Study up on it, check the facts and statistics, and understand the true data about addiction and substance abuse. You will find yourself far more capable and a lot less afraid when addressing these issues with your kid if you know a lot about the subject you are trying to resolve.