substance abuse

There are many factors that can cause children to abuse substances. Some of these include genetics, their environment, mental health, and more. In order to understand the causes which warrant substance use disorder treatment in children, it is important to understand how each factor plays a role in their behavior. Here, you can explore the different factors that can lead a child to abuse substances.

1. Depression

While many adults wonder why a child could develop symptoms of depression, this mental health condition tends to be closely accompanied by substance use. In the case of many teenagers, the demands of life, social navigation, and pressures can guide them on a path that will ultimately cause them more pain than joy. Many young people often reach out for substances like alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, these attempts to resolve one’s pain might have the opposite effect: often, alcohol abuse leads to depression. Substance abuse could in fact worsen the symptoms of one’s depression. In seeking out substance use disorder treatment, it is important to be aware of the possibility of depression as a leading cause.

2. Self-Soothing

In the kind of way a responsible adult drinker might reach for a beer at the end of a long week as a recreational relaxation measure, a child might also seek relief from the heaviness of their daily lives. From a child’s perspective, all the way into their teenage years, many issues can be extremely confusing and stressful. The simplest tasks become a source of frustration. In addition to these common stressors, a child could also experience an event, such as a family death or a loss of some kind, that causes them to seek relief from substance use. Following the initial relief brought on by these substances, a child could again find themselves in a painful cycle of guilt and shame surrounding their substance use. In the most vicious of cycles, this child would return to the same numbing substances that caused the painful emotions in the first place.

3. Peer Pressure

Adolescence is a ripe time for experimentation. In the years that kids spend growing up and finding out a few things about themselves, there can be an incredible push towards trying out new things. Sadly, not all of these new things are for the benefit of a child. Due to the idea that “everyone is doing it” and the fear of being left out of their generation’s culture, many children will try out alcohol and a variety of drugs. These innocent brushes with drugs result in a deeper dependency on the substances. In the haze of relaxation and the sense of finally being able to breathe, the minds of many children become hooked on the high. 

4. Lack of Boundaries

One of the largest demographics at risk for substance abuse disorders is children on the brink of adulthood. For these children, finally beginning to leave the homes where they grew up can be exhilarating. Leaving behind the structures they perceive to be rigid and entering into a world where everyone is guided by a personal set of values can be disorienting. In this confusion, older teens and young adults find themselves regularly using alcohol, drugs, and even prescription medicine to cope. Without guiding boundaries to keep them safe, these children find themselves in free-fall, often resulting in a substance use disorder.

It might be a difficult reality to come to terms with your child’s substance use. However, understanding the causes behind this situation can help you find an ideal substance use disorder program for your loved one.  

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