Addiction is not ageist, it can appear in any generation. When it occurs during the pre-teen and teenage years, the effects can be particularly devastating. Adolescence is a transitional time when the body and mind are rapidly changing and growing. Substance abuse alters this growth and can be detrimental to a child’s future.
Addiction does not discriminate
Many of us believe that addiction is an adult problem. One that forms over years of substance abuse and, out of despair, the addict finally enters rehab. Unfortunately, addiction does not discriminate based on age. It is not lurking in a corner waiting for you to become “legal” to begin its dance with you.
In fact, addiction develops as a result of biological, social, and environmental factors that are present in the early and formative years of a child’s development. It is a chronic, brain-based disease. Therefore, many young people begin displaying the behavioural aspects that can lead to addiction long before they ever pick up a drink, drug or abuse a habit.
Early childhood addiction warning signs can include:
- Poor social skills
- Angry outbursts
- Mood swings
Once in adolescence, the risk of developing a full-blown addiction is exceptionally high. It is critical to note that at this age, the brain’s prefrontal cortex is still developing. This part of the brain is responsible for decision making, planning, personality and moderating social behavior. Damage to this area has an adverse effect on the formation of the neural patterns and on a person’s future cognitive abilities. When a teenager’s brain is altered by substance abuse, the risk of increased abuse skyrockets which can easily slip into dependency. The younger a person is when they begin experimenting with illicit substances, the more likely an addiction will develop.
Young men pose a higher risk of addiction
There is an increased risk of developing an addiction for young men in today’s
society. Studies have shown that substance abuse, especially multi-substance abuse, is significantly higher among males than females with a ratio of approximately 2 to 1. Males also start using drugs earlier and in larger amounts than females. They are more frequently exposed to drugs through their male peer groups and males are more naturally prone to take risks or adopt a hedonistic approach to life. Their masculinity is often tied to their substance abuse; they feel stronger by engaging in dangerous behavior. During the teenage years, it is also vitally important for young men to develop bonds with their peers and substance abuse is often a way to connect with other males. It is important to note that once an addiction takes hold, a male is often less inclined to ask for help as not to appear weak.
Sober is cool
The good news is that a young addict has their whole life ahead of them. Time is on their side and the choices made now can and will determine the quality of their future. Many addicts in recovery share that they wish they had stopped abusing substances much earlier. How different their lives would have been if their addiction had lasted a few years instead of a few decades? The longer an addiction persists, the harder it is to gain freedom from it, both emotionally and physically. Stopping now will lessen the time required for recovery of both body and mind. Yes, the mind. The human brain contains neuroplasticity, the awesome ability to heal and continue to learn throughout our lives. This presents an amazing opportunity to restart ones’ life. A young man enters rehab not because he has done something wrong, but rather he wants to do something right, for himself and for his life.
And being a sober youth today is trending quickly. Young people are choosing to attend social events that are not centered around alcohol and drugs. Sober raves, gatherings and “juice-crawls” are gaining popularity worldwide and have become mainstream. It is becoming widely accepted to abstain from mind-altering substances and to connect with others in clarity. In addition, many celebrities are outing themselves as alcohol-free to positive support.
Find your Edge
When a young man is enthusiastic about his future, incredible things can happen. The Edge offers a unique and ground-breaking programme to treat the body and mind holistically. Physical exercise and male bonding through sport provide a cornerstone to the emotional models of cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and the 12 Steps. Participants engage in Muay Thai boxing, wilderness therapy and triathlon training. There are also opportunities for rock climbing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, archery and ziplining. Physical exercise produces endorphins that, over time, can rewire the brain to create positive emotional changes. We believe a strong body supports a strong mind.
Our psychological counselling is specifically tailored to meet the needs of young men. We utilize Recovery Zones, a treatment model we created to combine the best elements of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) an adapted, modern version of the 12 steps, and mindfulness. The goal of these therapies is to help the brain develop more positive thinking patterns to combat addictive behaviours. We offer both individual and group sessions. All of our counsellors are Western-trained and licensed professionals with extensive knowledge in treating addiction.
The Edge is located in the stunning mountain foothills of Northern Thailand. Choosing a rehab in a foreign country provides a healthy distance from the people, things and patterns that feed your addiction. Immersing yourself in a foreign country provides a sense of privacy and the adventure that travel provides as well as enthusiasm for what lies ahead. When you leave Thailand, you will continue to be supported by our extensive aftercare programme.
For more information contact us today. Start living the life you were meant to.