Parents often say, "How was I to know he or she would be an addict?"
The answer is you cannot ever know 100%.
However, you can look at the following precursors to judge risk:
1- Genetic Link. How our genes link together can predispose us to a higher likelihood of developing alcoholism or addiction if that Individual begins to drink or use drugs. If there is a history of alcoholism and addiction in your family than it is likely that your genetics align in a way that predisposes you to likely abuse or addiction of a substance.
2- It is not all genetics, Environmental factors such as access to substances, neighborhood influences, parental use of alcohol or drugs, sibling use of alcohol and drugs, ease of access to substances, school environment, friends access to substances and overall belief systems around alcohol and drug use; these all impact if an Individual will become an alcoholic or drug addict. The more permissive, accepting and accessible the environment, the more likely a Individual is to try alcohol or drugs and continue trying them. Environment is often the most over looked precursor but is the most easily influenced by parents and loved ones.
3- Age of first use. According to US News and World report, "New study reveals that 90 percent of Americans who are addicted to tobacco, alcohol or other substances started smoking, drinking or using drugs before they were 18 years old." It is very important to delay alcohol and substance use to beyond the teen years to decrease the likelihood of alcoholism or addictions developing. Curfews, boundaries and supervision are imperative to delaying substance use in teenagers.
4 - Self Esteem. While many parents believe that sports, music, dance and a tireless schedule will prevent a teenager from substance use; the truth is that these activities impact self esteem which is important to the prevention of substance use. A child who is a mediocre musician but praised and encouraged will fair better than the all star soccer player who is berated and belittled for mistakes by parents. Remember building self esteem in children is a deterrent to picking up substances later.
5 - Mental Illness - Since drugs and alcohol effect the brain in numerous areas and mental illness is found in the brain these two do not mix. If a Individual is struggling with depression and one day uses methamphetamine, a producer of huge dopamine releases - the feel good chemical of the body, the Individual may become instantly hooked. As well certain psychiatric disorders are more activated by drug use which can create a unstable or even dangerous situation. If there is a history of mental health disorders in the family educating teens and supervising them is the best way to avoid substance use.
6- Trauma - Recent studies show trauma that occurs in childhood increases the likelihood that the child will become an alcoholic or drug addict by 60 % or 5 times the normal rate. In particular if the trauma was a humiliating or based in humiliation of the child the likelihood increased even more dramatically. Trauma can range from childhood bullying, witnessing spousal abuse, verbal, physical or sexual abuse, a school shooting, or a near death experience. When anyone is powerless or helpless in a hurtful, frightening, degrading, humiliating or violent situation trauma can occur.
While no one can tell someone how to avoid becoming an alcoholic or drug addict there is help available if you find yourself or someone you love struggling.
We can help you: