Keeping yourself educated and aware of the current drug and alcohol trends can help you protect your teen from going down the wrong path. It is important to know that this can be difficult time and it is completely normal to feel out of your depth. Below are four stages of substance abuse that parents need to be aware of when raising teens.
First Use/ExperimentationA definition of substance use is inherent in the term. The person has used a substance. This may have happened on one occasion, or a hundred times. Many people, for example use alcohol. This fact does not mean that it is causing them harm, or not causing them harm. Many who have become addicted started drinking and using drugs as early as 12 years old. Early exposure is one of the high risk factors for the onset of addiction, but not always.
Misuse Of Drugs Substance misuse is a common term used by professionals. Essentially, it goes a little further than substance use and states that the person is using the substance in an unhealthy way. For example, drinking alcohol to the point of getting hangovers or binge drinking could be described as misusing alcohol. Some risky behaviour may begin to occur in this stage such as binge drinking, driving under the influence, or becoming preoccupied with alcohol and drug related activities. Your teen can also begin to show signs of defensiveness, defiance, depression, or anxiety.
Abuse Of Drugs Substance abuse is an official diagnosis for someone who is not only misusing the substance but also continuing to use despite the fact it is causing harm to his or her life. This harm can manifest in the form of debts, negative impacts on development and even leading to criminal charges. The World Health Organisation used the term ‘harmful use’ and this basically meant the same thing. Negative consequences at school and work and possible legal problems may emerge. Despite the consequences of your teen’s risky behaviour, the substance abuse continues.
Drug Addiction And Dependency Substance dependence is another official diagnosis and is the most severe form of addiction that can be diagnosed. The main diagnostic differences between abuse and dependence is that there is often but not always evidence of increased tolerance (i.e. needing more of the drug to reach the same level of intoxication). There are withdrawals upon stopping use of the substance where dependence is concerned. It is the presence of either withdrawals or tolerance that denotes whether someone is physically dependent. A characteristic of addiction is cravings that tell a person’s brain that continued use is critical for their survival. Cravings are what drive the dependent person to continue to use, despite the damage that it creates in their life and to the lives of those around them.
World Health Organisation (WHO) 2018. Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol. Management of Substance Abuse. http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/activities/gsrhua/en/