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Recognizing addictive behaviour in children

by DrPrem Jagyasi
addictive behaviour

Do you understand your child? If you spend time scouring though their social media you still might not get an overview of your child’s behavior and private thoughts. Teenagers seek independence from their parents as they progress into adulthood. These formative years see them drawing themselves into various things as they discover who they are. It is quite common for adolescents to keep to themselves; however, this does not mean that you should turn a blind eye to their behavior.

Teenagers are exposed to many social pressures as they develop, the temptation to try drugs and alcohol is just a part of growing up in modern society. As a parent, you should be diligent in your parenting, and watch out for any signs of substance abuse. Here is a list of five signs of addictive behavior that your teen may exhibit. If you recognize any of them, then it may be time for a serious chat with them to help them understand the dangers involved with substance abuse and the impact it will have on the rest of their life if they choose to become an addict. 

#1 Signs of Depression

drugs

Adolescents are typically moody; this is not something to be concerned about. However, prolonged periods of depression are a severe personality disorder that must be addressed immediately. Signs and symptoms of depression include; lethargy, anxiety, loss of appetite, and a weak demeanour. If you discover any of these signs of depression in your child, sit them down and have a long conversation with them. Avoid being judgemental and rather take an approach of understanding. Teens resist any form of condescending instruction and if you try to “lay down the law”, you will only risk pushing them further away. Adolescents who are always depressed have a higher chance of turning to black-market medications and other drugs to ease their mental suffering. If you use any prescription medications make sure you take a daily count of your pills to ensure that your teen is not stealing your medicine.

#2 Feelings of Anxiety

Anxious behavior is another red flag for any parent concerned with their teen’s emotional and mental well-being. Stress from the pressures of social and academic achievement may cause a hormonal imbalance in the brain. Interestingly enough, addicts and alcoholics tend to be perfectionists. Seeking approval may lead to depression and anxiety if they are not accepted. Monitor your teen for any signs of desperation, anxiety, or withdrawn personality. The pain of failure may induce the temptation to try drugs and alcohol to gain relief.

#3 Risk Taking

Human Brain

As teenagers develop their mind and body, various hormonal changes take place causing your child’s personality to change. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter excreted by the brain as part of the reward response. Teens typically experience lower baseline levels of dopamine than adults and conversely, they experience higher levels of dopamine release when they are excited or stimulated. This natural biological reaction causes teens to seek dangerous behavior to force a dopamine response. While some teens take up action sports, others may turn to drugs. Drugs work on the dopamine reward system, creating neural pathways in the brain that are stimulated by the effects of the drug. As these channels become used frequently, addiction to the substance that causes dopamine release is a certainty. The behavior is displayed in drug use, and other addictive behavior such as video game addiction symptoms that exhibit the same biological response as drugs. Monitor any risk taking behavior for signs of addiction.

#4 Emotional Instability

Pat of living a healthy, productive lifestyle as a teenager, is learning to handle the daily onslaught of emotions. Hormonal changes that occur during adolescence flood the mind and the body with new feelings and behavior that may be difficult to suppress. If your teen is displaying difficulty handling their emotions, this may be the development of behavior that is setting them up for substance abuse later in life. Take the time to have regular conversations with your child and give them advice, not instruction, about how to handle the feelings they are experiencing. 

#5 Social Alienation

Social Alienation

Teens are a difficult bunch to control. They often pick on those that they feel are weak, ostracizing them from social groups. If your child is a loner and does not have many friends at school, consider asking them if they would like to join a social club or sports team that is outside of their school. In some cases, where bullying may be present, consider removing them from the school and changing to another. Teens who feel alone are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, so make sure that you catch any of this behavior before it develops into an addiction that could ruin their life.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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