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7 Addiction Myths About Teens and Their Parents
Unfortunately, addiction is one of those diseases that remains drenched in myths, fallacies and misconceptions. From coast to coast, incorrect and outlandish addiction information pervades our society.
A Family Disease
Modern day drug fallacies not only involve the addicts, they can also involve the parents of chemically dependent adolescents and young adults.
For example, let’s say you managed to steer clear of drugs your whole life – a trait you’ve tried to instill in your teenage son. Then one day, out of the blue, you get a phone call. It’s the school principal; he’s calling to inform you that your son has been caught smoking pot in the restroom.
When word of the incident gets out, despite a lifetime of personal drug abstinence, your peers begin greeting you with awkward stares and whispers among themselves. In the blink of an eye, your educational support system crumbles and your parenting skills are in question.
When placing blame, promoting stereotypes and passing judgment becomes the norm, we lose our focus, integrity and compassion for helping the ones we love.
Education Equals Prevention
To combat addiction, we must first make an effort to truly understand the disease. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 7 myths that tend to surround adolescent drug abuse and parenting.
- Myth #1 Only Bad Kids Become Addicts
Addiction is not a character flaw and does not, by definition, reflect the moral integrity of an addict. It is an officially recognized disease and should be treated as such. Loving parents want nothing but the best for their children; they certainly do not teach or encourage their teens to be sick.
- Myth #2 Addiction is a Behavioral Problem
Addiction is compulsive, not voluntary. At a certain point, voluntary actions are eclipsed by psychological compulsion and psychical needs. Getting high is no longer the focus; staying “well” and avoiding withdrawal symptoms become the main goal. Parents don’t strive to see their teenagers think or behave compulsively. In truth, seeing a child fall prey to the clutches of drugs is heartbreaking for parents and should never be dismissed as a simple sign of “bad” behavior.
- Myth #3 The Household Lacks Discipline
Full-blown addiction does not acknowledge discipline, rules or authority. Even stern disciplinary action on behalf of the parents cannot control teenage addiction-influenced thoughts and behaviors. Simply put; you can be the strictest parent in town, but that won’t protect your teen from being susceptible to drug-related peer pressure or curiosity. What you can do, however, is establish an open line of communication with your teenager, set reasonable expectations and house rules and make sure you’re consistently playing an active role in his or her daily life.
- Myth #4 The Parents Must Have Set a Bad Example
From prescription drugs to cleaning supplies, drugs and mind-altering substances are everywhere. Drugs are in the schools, in the media and on plastered all over billboard advertisements. A teenager who abuses drugs is not a direct reflection of his or her home life. Though you can control what goes on under your own roof, parents cannot be held accountable for the outside world.
- Myth #5 The Parents Should’ve Been Paying More Attention
No matter how hard you try, you simply can’t be everywhere. It’s impossible to be present for everything – school dances, sleepovers, sports or just studying with friends are just a few examples. In truth, kids experience a lot without their parental supervision. You can only look for the signs and indicators of teenage drug use, but children of the even most vigilant parents can be lured into drug abuse and addiction.
- Myth #6 Willpower is Enough to Stop Addiction
Mind-altering substances physically change the way a normal brain functions. The brain’s chemical and biological processes influence behavior and thinking. As a part of the brain, willpower is at the mercy of this process. Parents can do a lot for their kids, but they cannot repair brain function.
- Myth #7 The Parents Should’ve Been Able to Handle It
This is one of the most dangerous and prevalent myths surrounding teenage drug abuse. Despite what comes out of the rumor mill, dealing with a child’s addiction on your own – without professional help – is typically a bad idea that’s destined for failure. Addiction affects millions of people every year – young and old. Seeking treatment for your teenager’s addiction is not only a reasonable and proactive response…it’s a sure sign of love.
Additional Reading: Busting Myths About Teens and Substance Use
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