As a parent, if one of your children develop an addiction, it can be an incredibly painful experience. The primary thing to remember, though, is that you are not alone. It’s a big problem for many families. And, notably through the teenage years as your kids start to become more independent and take more risks.
But, addiction can also occur in younger children – think smartphones or games consoles. And, it can spread across a wide variety of activities, from drink and drugs to eating and gambling. We’re going to have a look at the various types of addiction there is today, and give you some advice on how to approach the issue. Let’s get started right away.
First of all, it’s important to understand why people become addicts. It’s a complicated process, but, in essence, it’s filling a hole from other areas of life in the vast majority of cases. Addiction tends to accompany a whole host of other issues, from depression and angst through to peer pressure and bullying. It gives them an escape from their real world problems. So, the first step for any addiction prevention is to encourage your children to be open and honest with you from an early age. If they trust you as a friend as well as a parent, you will be in a much better place as you get older.
Don’t forget that many signs of addiction are similar to the growing pains felt by many kids. Your children might start to withdraw more from family life, for example. It doesn’t mean they are constantly in their bedrooms smoking heroin. Mood swings are common, too – as are serious attitude problems. Yes, it can be tough to decipher what is really going on. And, you will run the risk of alienating your kids if you serve up accusations of addiction straight away. It’s best never to approach them in this way unless you have clear evidence. Only then should you confront them about their problem.
Drug addiction of any kind – including nicotine and alcohol – can be scary for a parent. The problem is, of course, that many substances are physically addictive. The user has to get another fix, or they start getting withdrawal symptoms. Heroin, crack, or meth addiction are probably the most infamous, of course. But, many teenagers have alcohol or marijuana addiction problems, as well. The solution is to have discussions with your kids from an early age. Educate yourself about them – and also understand that people take drugs because they enjoy them. It will help you form a much stronger argument if you can see both sides of the story.
On the face of it, gambling addictions aren’t quite so black and white as drug addictions. But, there are more similarities than you might think. Just as a teenager can dabble in illicit drug use without becoming an addict, they can also try their hand at gambling. After all, many of us do it – whether it’s a weekly card game at home or a quick visit to the casino. The trouble is when the impact of gambling starts to affect their life. They might throw all their weekly allowance down a fruit machine, for example. Again, it’s vital for parents to talk to their kids about the potential of addiction from an early age. Teach them about how to see the signs, and be open with them so that they trust your advice.
Finally, it’s strange to think that this wouldn’t have been on the list 15-20 years ago. But, Internet addiction is a very real thing. It can stunt the development of a child’s social skills, and they can pick up unhealthy behaviors. They can also suffer from things like cyber bullying, which can lead to serious problems. Plus, of course, it can lead to other addictions, such as gambling, gaming, and anything else you can do online. It is vital to check your children’s use of the Internet and keep it at a safe level for their age.
We hope this has helped give you some insight into what to expect if your child is suffering from addiction. As we mentioned before, it’s important to play things the right way. Don’t be accusatory – it will just push them further away. Be kind, parenteral, and also be a friend. It will go a long way towards starting the road to recovery. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, and feel free to add your experiences of addiction.