Addiction is a process that begins when the person loses control over a substance or behavior that he or she uses, and the use or behavior gradually increases, and cannot be stopped even though he wants to stop himself. It is now known that not only cigarettes, alcohol and drugs but also some behavioral patterns cause addiction. For example, behavioral addictions occur with the uncontrolled continuation of behaviors that stimulate the brain’s reward mechanism, such as gambling, internet use, playing games, shopping, and sexual intercourse.
Research shows that; The most risky years for addiction to occur are the adolescence years. Because the brain structure is not fully developed, reasoning skills in adolescence are weaker than adults and the ability to predict the long-term consequences of behavior is not developed. In addition, due to the rebellion brought by the adolescence period, reaction to the family, excitement-seeking behavior and the urge to take risks, alcohol, cigarette, substance use, gambling, etc. more likely to engage in behavior.
Then, let’s talk about some points that parents of adolescents should pay attention to in order to prevent addiction.
First of all, communication with the child in the family is very important. If there is open communication between parent and child; if the child can share their problems, fears and curiosities with their parents; That family is lucky. In this case, the probability of the child to share with his family a dangerous situation he encounters outside or something he has tried just out of curiosity increases. This allows the family to intervene early in the event. On the other hand, the situation is different for the child who is afraid and afraid of his parents and has to hide something from them. Instead of telling his family about a danger he encounters outside, he acts according to his own decisions and increases the possibility of finding himself in risky situations. For this reason, first of all, a non-critical and open communication with children should be established and a family environment should be created in which they can open themselves.
Children learn by taking their parents as role models. It is not enough for a parent to just say something to the child, but also to show the truth with their own behavior. It won’t work very well if a parent who smokes, drinks alcohol or has a habit of gambling at home tells their child not to do these things. The fact that the parent is also doing this behavior will normalize it in the eyes of the child and cause him not to see it as a risk. If there is a behavior that you do not want your child to do, it is very important that you look at yourself in this regard and realize how you are a role model for him.
Not to warn children beforehand about possible dangers, thinking that it will not happen to us anyway; It is one of the mistakes made. Unfortunately, nowadays, drugs etc. Bad habits do not exist in one type of place. It is a risk that can be faced by any kind of person anywhere. For this reason, ignoring the issue by saying “it doesn’t happen to me” will do nothing but deny it. Some parents avoid talking about such topics because they think their children are particularly mind-blowing. Actually, this is not entirely true. Children should be informed in accordance with their age group. Otherwise, the child will access this information from different places and will be more likely to be harmed because they are afraid to talk to their parents. In an age where information spreads so fast, unfortunately, children learn everything they did not learn from their parents externally and often uncontrollably. Parents who do not know how to give age-appropriate information to the child on these issues should seek support from experts in the subject.
With all this, parents should be good observers. What is meant by being an observer; Watching a child 24/7 is not following. It is being able to notice the changes in the child’s mental state and behavior during the time spent together. For this, it is necessary to take care to spend quality time. In addition, it is necessary to have sufficient information about the life of the child outside the home. For example, who are his friends, what does he like to do with them, where does he go, what kind of child is he at school, how are his lessons etc. Parents should be in control. The child should not be given the feeling that he is being watched too closely, nor should the child be left completely unattended. Parents who can establish this balance are generally successful in communicating and can establish a more balanced relationship with their children.
As a parent, it is important to be able to take care of yourself first and to be open to improvement in the missing points. When you realize that you cannot do this, getting expert support is important both for your own mental health and for guiding your children in the right direction. Even an insidious process such as addiction can be discovered early in families with strong communication and prevented before the child is harmed much.