by Teen Drug Abuse Staff
The life decisions we make currently in our individual lives ultimately will effect, be it better or for worse, the futures of our lives. For instance one who neglects to learn how to read will be handicapped by their inability to read for the rest of their life until they learn to read. Lack of curbing problems while they are still in their growth stage can be tremendously more difficult to curb when the problems have reached their maturity. For these reasons teens are at a unique time in their lives to be able to change, if they are in the right situation with enough leverage for a significant amount of time As their drug/alcohol use will ultimately still be in the growth stage.
One of the best reasons to get a help for teens while they are still teenagers, beyond being a very formidable time in a childs life, is the consequences of inaction upon future generations. Statistics have shown that instances of teen drug addiction run in long chains from parents to children. This is why now is the time to either break the chain of teen drug addiction or stop it from forming. No amount of hard work, money, sacrifice is worth more than breaking a chain of substance abuse or preventing one from forming.
For some, the vicious cycle of teen drug abuse begins at home when they are influenced by the addictive behaviors their parents exhibit. For example, children of alcoholics (COAs) are a group of individuals who suffer the plight of their parents' alcoholism. As many as 6.6 million children lived with at least one alcoholic parent according to 1998 statistics (Trebilcock, 1998). Many researchers attest to the fact that familial influence is the primary reason COAs seek solace in the comforting effects of alcohol. Growing up as the child of an alcoholic parent creates a great deal of pressure to handle home front issues at a very young age. The various roles forced upon children often make them assume responsibilities meant for adults; as a result, they take on personality traits that reflect mascots, enablers, scapegoats, heroes and lost children. These behaviors tend to lead to self-destructive activities, such as the perpetuation of alcoholism and teen drug addiction, as a means by which to escape the pain of a miserable home life (Rodney, 1996).
Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, inability to express feeling, lack of control, distrust, issues with intimacy, hypervigilance and an overwhelming sense of responsibility are all indicative of COAs. Trying to deal with issues revolving around the family upon such an escalated level proves extremely difficult when children of alcoholic parents cannot even function normally regarding their own lives. This situation often spawns a codependency syndrome that follows the child throughout his or her entire life; codependency has long been found to be a significant indicator of alcoholism (Rodney, 1996).
COAs severely compromise their own self worth for their alcoholic parent. Because of this, there are many unresolved issues that remain buried deep within the child's subconscious. One way they manifest themselves is through the consumption of alcohol, which enables the COA to forget the pain of home. In order to mask these emotional deficiencies most effectively, COAs often follow a pattern of behavior that ultimately establishes its own pattern of self-loathing:
- Taking extreme pride in maintaining self-control.
- Basing self-esteem on having relationships.
- Placing everyone else's needs before one's own.
- Denying that one's own needs exists.
- Sacrificing one's own identity for the sake of intimacy.
- Changing one's personality to please others.
- Battling low self-worth.
- Always compelled by compulsions.
- Abusing substances.
- Trying to control others with love or anger.
- Facing the world with a fa§ade of false feelings.
- Experiencing stress-related medical illnesses. (Rodney, 1996, p. 19).
The very foundation of a strong family is undermined when one or more parents are alcoholics. This lack of definition, as well as a sense of stability and safety, is what often instigate the onset of alcoholism and teen drug addiction in COAs. Studies report findings that correlate with this theory, establishing the fact that the inability to solve family problems, along with the inability to reach compromise and negotiation between parent and child, are instrumental in the influence of alcoholism (Ellis et al, 1997). High-risk families display a distinct sense of disconnectedness when it comes to the familial bond; during times of sobriety, the parent performs as a normal parent does, but the onset of drunkenness transforms her into an illogical, combative and belligerent enemy.
Cruse-Wegscheider (1989) discusses the predictability of behavior patterns, describing how the disease ultimately dictates how the teen feels, acts and perceives his world. Moreover, the manifestation of these distinguishable behaviors sets in motion a series of events - some slow to pass, others more readily noticeable - that mark the "accelerating disintegration of the whole person that is the mark of alcoholism" (Cruse-Wegscheider, 1989, p. 28). Ketchum et al (2000) note that for many, alcoholism is a family tradition; not only does at least one parent drink but so did their grandparents and often even further back in the generational construct. "If someone in your family is an alcoholic - a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, brother, or sister - you have a much greater risk of getting the disease if you drink" (Ketchum et al, 2000, p. 270). The authors further point out how it is usually an early experience with liquor that hooks teenagers for life, all too often casting them into society to function in a constant stupor of drunkenness. A great number of COAs are lonely teens unable to overcome their shyness with other peers and do not have a healthy relationship with their alcoholic parents. The unpredictability and instability of drunken parents intimidate what would otherwise be a strong child, forcing him to seek refuge in his world controlled by alcohol and teen drug addiction.