With the start of the teen years comes a lot of hard conversations. As parents, we want to prepare our children to deal with the outside world, but we don’t want to scare them or overwhelm them. We desperately want to shield our teens from bad influences, but unfortunately, we can’t protect them forever. We must teach them how to correctly handle hard issues like sex, abuse, and addiction, otherwise, they may learn from others who do not have their best interests at heart. Here is a quick guide to discussing addiction with your teen.
Don’t limit the conversation to well-known addictions
It can be easy to limit conversations surrounding addiction to the ones we know best, like internet addiction or substance abuse. Instead, make sure your teen understands what addiction is in its purest form: a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects upon withdrawal or abstinence. Although addictions such as sex or pornography addiction, alcoholism, or drug addiction are the most recognized, the definition of what an addiction is is much broader. People can be addicted to sugar, to social media, to people-pleasing, and so much more. Focus on this truth of what addiction is, and how it can harm people.
Talk to them about how addictions start
Addictions don’t start out as an all-consuming force in life. Rather, they start in ways that seem small and controllable, slowly becoming more and more severe. In addition, many addicts may not be able to see their addiction for what it is. This is why many addicts may make claims about how they can stop at any time, or something similar. Although those claims might have been true at some point, it is rarely the case for long. Addressing how addictions start and grow can help them recognize early warning signs in themselves or their peers!
Teach them that addiction can be overcome
Share stories with them of people overcoming addiction, and let them know that no matter what addictions may arise in their lives and the lives of loved ones, there is always a way forward. It may be hard, and painful, but there are no lost causes. There are so many people who struggle with addiction at some point, and there is a good chance that eventually your child will know someone who has become an addict. Because of that, it is important to teach them that it can be moved on from. Just because someone develops an addiction, does not mean it must define them forever.
Now, you are better prepared to talk to your teen about addiction and all that goes with it.