Anyone who drinks, smokes or takes drugs can become addicted (to alcohol, narcotics, cigarettes…). However, the dangers of addiction are greatest in adolescents because they often attracted to self-conscious, ”emancipated” procedures, and they rarely think about the long-term consequences. Fortunately, only a small number of adolescents experiment with the so-called ”hard” drugs, probably because it is harder to get them. However, taking the so-called ”light” drugs is quite widespread. In many environments, marijuana is easily obtained and is practically consumed in public. Cigarettes and alcohol are also present at almost all meetings.
Therefore, parents have certain reasons for concern. Adolescence is also characterized by the desire for experimentation, the feeling of almost limitless abilities and opportunities, as well as the need for maximum validation and verification of their own abilities. In addition, adolescents are particularly vulnerable to peer influence. They feel the need to belong to a group. If the behavior of a group includes taking drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, it will often be difficult for an adolescent to resist the temptation – that is, group adjustment.
The first ”experiment” often leads to the next, and experimentation can easily pass into habit, or even addiction. For example, many smokers started smoking in adolescence. Statistics show that (among smokers) there are few people who started smoking in their 20-ies (or later), while 85% of smokers who started smoking in adolescence are addicted.
What should parents do?
As for drugs, it is certainly best to inform adolescents with the dangers they are exposed to. Since narcotics poses a more immediate danger than smoking or drinking, your call to a common sense of the child may be more convincing. Assume all teenagers are exposed to temptation (i.e. drugs), sooner or later, and talk to your child (or children) about the best way to reject drugs. Your advice will have the most influence if you support it with facts. To clearly point out the dangers of drug addict, recommend your son or daughter to read a narcotics article.
There is no evidence that marijuana is as dangerous as drugs like heroin. This fact is known to most adolescents, so your arguments are likely to be lost if you focus too much on the marijuana. However, be sure to point out the danger of psychological addiction to marijuana. Any addiction to this type is detrimental even when the drug itself does not have to endanger the physical health of adolescents. As for cigarettes, parents’ efforts to dissuade children from smoking are usually not particularly successful.
Environment and the availability of cigarettes greatly affect on adolescents and are usually the reason why those adolescents start smoking, especially if their friends and family members are also smokers. Adolescents hate double standards, so you will not have much success in pointing out the harmful effects of smoking if you smoke at the same time. You can easily turn your kids away from smoking if you do not smoke. By forbidding children to smoke at home – although they might smoke in other places – you will at least reduce the amount of cigarettes.
The situation is somewhat different with drinks. One can not learn to drink reasonably. Drinking can be a serious problem in young people, not only because of possible later alcoholism, but also because of the serious consequences that can sometimes be caused by excessive amounts of drinks. Older adolescents are the most vulnerable group because of traffic accidents, and drunk driving is one of the most common causes of accidents. However, adolescents have to gain the majority of experience on their own, and not through statistical data.
Most young people are quick to get acquainted with the effects of alcohol. A family home is the best place to acquire social ”skills” – including the ability to recognize ”sufficient” quantities of alcohol and refuse further drinks. Parents who do not have drinking problems will almost never have these problems with the younger generation.