Why Some Young People Struggle with Drugs and Alcohol

Why Some Young People Struggle with Drugs and Alcohol

Why do some young people struggle with alcohol and other drugs?

There are many factors that can contribute to young people forming a dependence on alcohol and other types of drugs.

This includes:

  • Environmental factors. Spending time in settings where drugs are used (such as the family home) and in the company of peers who use addictive substances are both risk factors for young people.
  • Personal and family stresses. Young people who develop addictions often have been exposed to difficult family circumstances, such as the stress of having a family member who struggles with serious mental health concerns, separation or other factors. Young people with a history of emotional problems and challenges at school can also be at risk.
  • Genetics. Many studies have shown that genetics contribute to the likelihood that an individual will develop an addiction. But, it’s very important to remember that just because someone may have a genetic predisposition does not mean that they will inevitably struggle with addiction.

What are some signs your child may be struggling with alcohol and other drugs?

It’s not always easy for parents and other adults to tell if a young person is engaging with drugs in a harmful manner. Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Young people failing to attend school or struggling at school. Issues with the law can also occur.
  • Problems in family/peer relationships and changes in their social circle.
  • Sudden behavioural changes, such as anger or acting in a withdrawn manner.
  • Disruptions in their eating and sleeping habits. They may also pay less attention than usual to their personal grooming.
  • Losing interest in their normal hobbies.

How can you help your teen to have a healthy attitude towards alcohol and other drugs?

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Show your teen that alcohol and other drugs aren’t necessary for having fun, relaxing or a way to deal with stressful circumstances. If you are dealing with work stress, instead of drinking alcohol you could model other coping strategies. These may include: exercising, calling a friend, meditating or brainstorming solutions for how you could be proactive about problems at work.
  • Let your teenager know that they are free to talk about drugs and alcohol with you. For example, if a story about drugs arises on the TV/radio, use this as a way to engage with them about their opinion. This is a great way for you to correct misinformation they may have heard from others while also showing that you can discuss the topic with them in a mature, informed and caring manner.

Seek the help you need

To find out more, visit Youth Network of Tasmania for a list of local services and online support.