Substance Abuse and Teens: Five Myths About Addiction
Addiction is not something that only happens to adults. All over the country teens are lead into addiction because of peer pressure or trying to self-medicate to cope with difficulties in life. Falling into addiction can happen fast so it is important to understand how it takes root. Here are five of the most commonly held myths about substance abuse and addiction in teens:
Teens can't get addicted
The stereotypical image of an addict is rarely a teenager. However, you’re just as susceptible to addiction as anyone else. You might be aware of addiction, but might believe that it’s reserved for only certain types of people. But addiction doesn't discriminate by age. Because you spend your teen years trying to figure out who you are (your ethics, morals, character, etc.), you are incredibly impressionable. It is easy to get roped into using drugs and alcohol based on how it's depicted in the media or the fact that your friends and peers are using them. If you are using drugs and alcohol as an effort to fit in, you may find it can quickly turn into abuse and addiction.
Experimentation is fine
Even if you acknowledge that your friends or peers use drugs or alcohol, you might have trouble seeing them as potential addicts. It's natural to be curious about new things and experiences, particularly when you're a teen. However, that curiosity can quickly go awry when it involves drugs and alcohol. You may try to tell yourself that you'll only try something once, but these substances are designed to make you want to keep using them. Even if you know that something is dangerous and want to stop using it, your developing brain can be altered in a way that makes quitting easier said than done.
Only "bad kids" use drugs
All teens experience stress and times when they feel lost. To cope with these feelings of stress, you might look to drugs as a temporary escape. Unfortunately, that could end up being the only source of comfort you have. Whether you are someone who struggles in school or is high-achieving, if you feel alone and isolated or are a star athlete, you may choose to start using drugs as a means of dealing with the judgement or pressure that has been put on you. But self-medicating to cope with your problems is not going to solve them. And if you become dependent, addiction is not something that should be ignored.
Rehab is for adults only
When a person is going through addiction, rehab is an option that should definitely be considered. It's not something that should be exclusive to adults nor is it a sign of any personal failing for you. People who have overcome addiction have done so because they have been willing to admit they need help. Getting help does not make you weak. Realizing you have a problem, taking responsibility for your behavior, and putting in effort to make change is an incredibly strong and brave thing to do. And please remember that it's never too late to get help.
You need to hit rock bottom to get help
The concept of “rock bottom” is based on the myth that there's a lowest point addicts must reach before they can get help. This misconception is dangerous and false. Help for addicts should never be contingent on whether or not their problem seems severe enough. If you think you need help, you should not be scrutinized. Instead, you should be respected for how perceptive you are. If you tell someone you need help and all they do is scold you, find someone else to tell. And someone else, and someone else. Tell as many people as you need to until you find someone who takes your concerns seriously. The road to recovery is long, but asking for help is the first step out of addiction.
Myths about teen addiction are dangerous because people start to accept them as truth and believe that there doesn't need to be anything done in response. Dispelling these notions is a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of teens everywhere. Be aware of the signs of addiction, in yourself and others, and never be afraid to reach out for help.
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, please call 866-888-4265
This is a guest post courtesy of The Recovery Village. Head to their website to learn more.
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