What is an addiction?

It’s no surprise that teens are impulsive making them a little more susceptible to developing teen addiction.

What can start as just simple curiosity can turn into physiological dependency.

Often times parents will see this trend occur and dismiss it, in the beginning, hoping it’s just a phase.

We implore you to not let go of the issue so easily, as addiction can be widespread, long-term, and sometimes irreversible to the effects of the brain.

Addiction can be drugs, alcohol, or even drama – any kind of behavior that will encourage the reward pathway in the brain. usually by releasing a neurotransmitter called dopamine.

Enough of the pleasure-pathway activation will encourage one to repeat behavior until neural networks in the brain are formed.

Addiction and abuse

Abuse can happen by taking a drug, but addiction is when your neurons get wired in such a way that a dependency is created to maintain homeostasis in your psychological and physical body.

Because addiction will change the executive – decision-making – a portion of the brain, sometimes people will not see how it alters their behavior.

Signs that your teen is struggling with addiction

Being a teenager is erratic on its own, so sometimes the signs are hard to differentiate between what is regular and what is irregular. Here are a few to keep an eye on:

– Unusual tiredness
– Loss of interest in activities
– Bloodshot eyes
– Insomnia – Bad grades
– Poor hygiene – Clashing with other family members – Diminished personal appearance
– Avoiding eye contact
– Secretive behavior
– Missing curfew

Causes of Addiction

There are many causes of addiction, some we know, some we are barely beginning to understand.

There are also many misconceptions about addiction. There is never solely just one cause of why it happens.

Genetic, biological, and environmental factors play a large role, but there is not one factor or personality type that can accurately predict whether someone is more prone or not.

Mental health – or a strong inability to deal with adverse feelings will be a large contributor to the attraction of drug use.

How Parents Can Help

Having a relationship with a teen can be tricky.

You want honesty, and at the same time, you are the boundary-setting-disciplinarian.

That doesn’t always leave room for complete transparency.

Confronting teens about addiction can be a particularly sensitive issue.

That’s why following some guideline can be helpful navigating these waters.

Before confronting, try to get a more solid outline of their behavior.

Make notes of when they are acting out, or things appear off. Talk to friends or your partner and ask them what they notice about behavior.

Teens will often feel threatened when a parent goes straight at them with accusations. Equally threatening can be when a parent will snoop through their things leaving a sense that their personal space has been invaded. Unfortunately, sometimes the ladder is necessary. Be prepared for how they may react to this.

Finding help for your Teen

Contact a professional.

Family Physicians and Psychologists can do the analysis to assess the mental state of teens.

A physician can run tests to see if your teenager has been doing drugs and if any damage to the body has taken place.

Treatment centers like ERA have the resources necessary to assist struggling teens in this area.

Gather a team of resources to get an informed and cohesive action plan.