Positive Parenting, Children, Drugs, Addiction, Parenting

Positive Parenting, Children

Do you suspect your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol?

Why they do it and what parents can do.

14/5/2021 10:20:00 AM

Why they do it and what parents can do.

In a bid to explore new experiences, adolescents may sometimes fall into the trap of substance abuse.

Teenagers face many challenges as they grow up and mature into adults.Substance abuse is one of the pitfalls that they (and their parents) need to be aware of and guard against.According to the 2017 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), one in 10 secondary school students in Malaysia smokes cigarettes.

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You may not think of tobacco in cigarettes as a drug, but one can get addicted to it just like other drugs.Substance abuse is defined as the harmful use of psychoactive substances, including tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs, which can lead to addiction and other short- and long-term complications.

The survey also found that one in 25 secondary students had used illicit drugs, while one in 10 had drunk alcohol.The drugs used included ecstasy, cannabis (marijuana), ketum leaves, methamphetamine (syabu), cocaine, inhalants (e.g. glue), stimulants, painkillers and anti-anxiety medications. headtopics.com

Why they do itIt is important to understand the factors that may cause teens to become involved with substance abuse.>Peer pressureTeenagers may start taking drugs or other substances to fit in a group.Often, they are coaxed to try the substance by their friends, who seem to enjoy it.

This leads them to believe it is cool or fun to take drugs.A history of substance abuse in the family may also be a contributing factor, especially if the parents are current users.>Mental healthSome teenagers with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, conduct disorder and compulsive behaviour take drugs to release their stress.

They may use prescription drugs such as painkillers, stimulants and antidepressants.>Low confidenceOne of the effects of drugs is the loss of social inhibition.Many teenagers take drugs to boost their confidence during certain activities, which they would otherwise be too shy or fearful of doing.

>Media portrayalSmoking, drinking and drug use are often portrayed by the media and in pop culture as common among teenagers and in the community.This normalises this high risk behaviour and indirectly encourages teenagers to consume drugs and other harmful substances. headtopics.com

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>Teens tend to seek out new experiences, particularly high risk behaviour, perceiving it as thrilling.Boredom can also be a factor, as they have difficulty keeping themselves occupied.Hence, they seek excitement in the form of drugs to fill the void in their lives and get instant gratification.

What parents can doHere’s what parents can do to prevent their child from substance abuse:>Maintain a stress-free environment at homeCreate a safe, disciplined and supportive home environment.If school is a high-stress environment, help your teen manage their stress.

>Be a good role model to your teenAbstain from drug abuse yourself, and try to stop smoking and excessive drinking.Remember to praise him and reward his good behaviour.>Get to know her circle of friendsIf you think your teen is in bad company, encourage her to make other friends.

>Do not leave him constantly unsupervisedSpend time talking with your teen about his day.Keep updated about his activities without checking in excessively on him.>Encourage your teen to participate in healthy activitiesThese can include hobbies, sports and part-time jobs to keep her occupied. headtopics.com

Teenagers who occupy their time well are less likely to get involved in substance abuse.>Be well-informed about the symptoms and signs of substance abuseThere are many behavioural changes that may indicate substance abuse by teens, including:Physical changes like loss of appetite, lack of energy, agitation, changes in speech, being sluggish, excessive sleeping and an unsteady gait.

Skipping school, which may cause their grades to drop.Stealing money to purchase drugs.Constantly appear to be in a daze or restless, and unduly angry or sad.Get professional help if you suspect your teen is experimenting with or misusing harmful substances.

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Support your teen throughout rehabilitation and after recovery.All parties, including parents, teachers and the community, play a role in preventing substance abuse, educating teenagers and supporting them towards recovery.Be ready to extend a helping hand to teenagers when they are in need.

Do not hesitate to seek professional help for them; most substance abusers need assistance to break free from the habit. Read more: The Star »

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