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I want to talk about the different reasons why a person might start using drugs at a young age. Different forms of abuse and neglect are obvious patterns and paths into the world of addiction. Abuse comes in many forms including; Sexual, Mental, and Physical.
Most people (children, teens, and adults) use drugs or drink alcohol for one reason. They want to feel good, or they are running away from a bad feeling. That is why I have so much empathy for people who have gotten stuck in the cycle of addiction. When children experience sexual abuse, they are forced to grow up and realize things about their bodies that they are too young to comprehend, which can impact their confidence and the way they interact with their peers. When children are mentally abused, they develop harsh responses and incorrect feelings about their environment and the people in it. When children are physically abused it alters their personalities and their feelings about their own self-worth.
All forms of abuse create trust issues and intense emotional pain. When a child’s brain is exposed to a stressful event the brain learns to adapt and respond differently. Many times it learns an improper and unhealthy response. Issues like anxiety and depression can even creep up on you later in life making ordinary everyday struggles seem more difficult.
Now imagine someone who just wants to escape the pain of their rotten childhood. They find a substance that makes them forget about their father’s physical abuse or the inappropriate way their babysitter touches them. To them, this is the best way they’ve found to cope with their pain. I understand we need to stand up and take responsibility for ourselves, but when you are running away from the heavy generational pain it becomes hard to understand happiness.
Maybe to correct addictive patterns we need to define where our happiness lies. At some point no matter what anyone has done to hurt you, you have to understand that to succeed you need to forgive them. You have to stop feeling sorry for yourself and figure out how to solve the situation you’re in no matter who you feel put you there.
Neglect and abuse often go hand in hand
When a child’s basic needs are not met it’s easy to understand why they might turn to drugs and alcohol. Think of a child who doesn’t get enough to eat. This could cause numerous issues with their development. They may develop weight issues later in life, or struggle to ever maintain a healthy balance with their diet. Even something that might not seem like a big issue for some people, eating habits can be detrimental to your child’s success.
Conversely, a child who feels left out might believe they have found acceptance in a group of kids who use drugs. That child may be more susceptible to trying them for many reasons (listed about) and may try drugs to fit in. The real question is why do they lack the confidence of their peers and how do parents notice a lack of confidence and work on building their child up. My hope is that any child going through an emotional situation would feel like they could talk to a member of their family. It might seem silly to have to say it but children require parenting. They require guidelines, empathy, structure, discipline, proper diets, and communication. If you create a healthy environment for your child they can use the tools you give them to combat early drug use.
Try paying attention to your child’s mood. Have an open discussion with your child and enjoy them. They are mini versions of you. You have the most important impact on them. You teach them how to view the world until they can start developing their own opinions. Help them to not have to chase their pain away with external substances, happiness comes from within.