The recent news coverage of drug abuse among young adults gave way to a much-needed conversation around substance abuse. Indian parents often avoid topics society considers taboo like sex education, substance abuse and more. This mindset of locking up things, unwillingness to share and communicate along with a regressive, controlling parenting style can lead to a ton of issues. From strained relationships to mental health and drug abuse, kids can fall victim to any of these. So how do parents help their child stay clear of harmful habits and choose what’s right and what’s wrong?
TC46 connected with Psychiatrist Dr Kedar Tilwe of Fortis Hospital and Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai to understand this problem of substance abuse among teenagers and young adults. Here he talks about the causes of addiction, the need for awareness among pre-adolescents and ways for parents to keep their child off drugs.
1. Misinformation about drug abuse becoming a bigger problem among teenagers and young adults
Thrill seeking, peer pressure and following the wrong type of ‘role models’, along with a plethora of misinformation gained from unreliable sources contribute to an increase in the problem of drug use amongst this highly impressionable and suggestible age group.
2. Substance abuse issues becoming common in India among young adults and teens
The most common drugs of abuse amongst adolescents and teenagers are:
3. Symptoms of drug abuse among kids to look out for
- Increased irritability, mood swings and/or sudden anger outbursts
- Sudden secretive behavior and poorly explained abstaining from schedule
- Sleep pattern reversals or disturbances
- Sudden drop in academic scores
- Lying or stealing money is also common
4. Peer pressure and isolation are some of the causes of drug abuse issues among kids
- Misinterpretation of information available or accessing and believing unreliable information
- Peer pressure or pressure to conform to group norms and appear ‘cool’
- The need to ‘rebel’ against what is considered as acceptable and normal behavior, or as a part of indulgence in risk taking or thrill seeking
- The increased sense of loneliness and isolation felt even more during the pandemic
- Tendency towards faster pleasure seeking and lowered frustration tolerance and patience seen in today’s tech-savvy generation
5. 3 effective ways for parents to help keep their kids off drugs
- Build a safe, non-judgmental, and trusting environment that the kids feel safe and secure in
- Enhance their healthy coping skills, teach them essential life skills, and most importantly encourage conversations on what is bothering them
- Channelize their impulses into constructive and socially acceptable work
6. Parents should have a conversation about drug abuse with their kids in pre-adolescence
Every pre-adolescent child should be made aware of the dangers and risks associated with drug abuse. Informing them about the common drugs and their side-effects would be ideal. They should also be encouraged to reach out to the parents in case someone is pressuring them to do so. The conversation needs to be repeated every year to reassure them of your support if the need arises.
7. Parents can introduce and influence a healthy relationship with alcohol for legal aged kids in social gatherings
Setting an example by not consuming alcohol or any substance during family get-togethers or parties by yourself is the best example you can set, as kids usually model their behavior to mimic their parents! Showing them how to say ‘no’ politely would also help.