As a whole, young people are the most susceptible to becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. Addiction is a disease that can affect anyone based on specific risk factors. One of the biggest risk factors of becoming addicted is a person’s age. Those who begin abusing drugs or alcohol during their teenage years are much more likely to develop an addiction than someone who begins their substance abuse later in life. This happens because addiction is due to an issue of the prefrontal cortex, which doesn’t fully develop until a person is typically in their 20s. In recent studies, it’s been shown that teenage girls are actually more at risk of becoming addicted than boys, and there are a few reasons behind this.
The MetLife Foundation sponsored a study back in 2010 that showed that young girls are more likely to develop problems with substance abuse than boys. This happens for a variety of different reasons. Although being a teenager seems like it’s a carefree time in a person’s life, it can be filled with quite a bit of stress. Teen girls have many emotional issues that they’re trying to deal with, so they may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of self-medicating. According to the study, “teen girls are more likely to associate ‘self-medicating’ benefits with drinking and getting high.”
The Problem with Normalizing Substance Abuse
It’s true that as a parent there is very little one can do to prevent their child from ever experimenting with alcohol or drugs. Being too strict with a teenager can cause him or her to become more rebellious and want to try alcohol or drugs even more, and being too lenient can provide the teen with too many opportunities to drink or use drugs. The important thing for parents to keep an eye on is their daughter’s moods and how they’re dealing with life. Lines of communication should always be open so the teen feels comfortable discussing their social and emotional issues. The more one’s daughter feels comfortable discussing these issues decreases the likelihood that they’ll turn to substances as a way of coping.
How Self-Medicating Leads to Addiction
The teen years of a person’s life are filled with a variety of different issues that they’re trying to cope with. Not only are young people trying to succeed in school so they can get into college and pursue a quality career path, but they’re also trying to find out where they fit in. Teen years are also a time when specific mental health disorders can begin to arise like anxiety or depression, and there are also those who endure traumatic experiences. All of these different aspects can lead to a person self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. The issue is that the longer a young girl uses alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, the more their brain begins to crave substances whenever one of these situations or emotions arise.
Addiction is a progressive illness, so the best time to get help is when a person is in the early stages of addiction. By seeking treatment for substance abuse at a young age, your daughter has the best chances of recovering and going on to fulfill her hopes and dreams in life.