Our teen years are very volatile years when we require a lot of love and support to find our way. The changing hormones of puberty can bring out new dimensions of a young person’s developing personality, and some of them are extremely hard to deal with. There are several age ranges when people’s personalities can shift, and the teen years are a time when mental disorder and addiction can get a foot in the door when families are not careful. In North America, teenagers have access to essentially every kind of addictive substance and activity. It is imperative that parents and support systems keep them on a track away from addiction.
Teenagers are at a unique time in their lives, when their personalities are still able to be molded. In a positive regard, a teenager can experiment with an addictive substance or activity, even abuse it for a time, but their ability to let go of it remains in tact. Teenagers are seeking for a sense of identity and crave one of substance, but often make mistakes in pursuit of it. Typically, their addictive tendencies have more to do with searching for this sense of identity than with the mental disorder that we know of as addiction. If family, friends, teachers, counselors and peers intervene on the teenager who is experimenting with addictive substances or activities, they stand a very good chance of helping the teen correct their behavior.
There is, however, very real dangerous elements to teenage addiction as well. The obvious danger is the immediate kind. Teenagers do not have as strong a sense of consequence as adults do simply because of their inexperience in the world. This makes them more likely to over use the object of their addiction to a dangerous extent. This could mean dangerous binge drinking, over-dosing on drugs or having unprotected sense, all of which can endanger their lives. The other danger for teenagers who are struggling with addiction is the patterns they can set. If their addictive behavior is allowed to go on too long without intervention, they could develop the hardest kind of addiction to recover from; the kind that is a lifelong coping mechanism that extends back to adolescence.