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Understanding Teen Addiction: What it is and How it Hurts Your Teen

Teen addiction has become a growing concern among parents. It seems that almost every day, we hear about tragic cases of teens who’ve fallen victims to substance abuse. In fact, recent statistics suggest that roughly half of the American adolescents have used illicit substances by the 12th grade.

But to prevent curiosity and occasional use from turning into a severe problem, we must first understand what addiction is.   

What is an addiction?

According to a recent post by Medical News Today, addictions are mainly characterized by a problematic pattern of use, which leads to clinically significant impairment or distress.

People who struggle with addiction often engage in risky behaviors and find it difficult to keep their cravings in check. Although many express a desire to quit, it’s difficult to overcome the physical and psychological reactions associated with withdrawal.

For a growing teenager, substance abuse could result in family tensions, social withdrawal, relationship issues, poor academic performance, and even delinquency.

teen addiction
What are the telltale signs of teen addiction?

From a clinical perspective, addictions fall under the category “substance-related and addictive disorders.” Depending on the specific substance or addictive behavior, symptoms can vary significantly from one form of addiction to another.

Mental health professionals often divide the symptoms associated with this problem into three categories – physical, psychological, and social.

If you suspect your teen might be dealing with an addiction, keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleeplessness
  • Changes in appearance
  • Frequent involvement in risky behaviors
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Secrecy and solitude
  • Denial and constant excuses to cover up the problem
  • Unexpected loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Financial problems

As always, the first step in tackling teen addiction is to address a healthcare professional who can provide an accurate assessment and a potential treatment plan in case your teen does struggle with addiction.

Since there’s relatively little authorities can do to prevent illegal substances from reaching our teens, perhaps a better strategy would be to “kill” the demand by raising healthy and emotionally stable teens who won’t resort to substances to cope with life’s challenges.

Strong positive connections within the family, a clear set of limits, and a healthy dose of discipline can prevent teen addiction.

To learn more about treatment options for your teen, click here