Are you a parent who believes or hopes that your child will never experiment or use marijuana and other substances? The percentage of youth who do experiment and continue to use mind altering substances (MAS) is shockingly high. Why are they resorting to these?
In my previous blog I asked questions which if you responded to, would lead to some answers. If you responded to the question to describe what makes you trust a person, and your response was that you trust people who you feel safe with, who do not threaten you, then that answer alone would tell you why our children will or will not confide in you.
If they avoid confiding in us then chances are a bit higher that they will experiment and indulge in alcohol and or MAS, and other anti social behaviours. Trust is essential.
So we earn their trust by not threatening their inner person. We provide a safe space for them to voice their opinions and share their stories. Criticising their choice of friends, music, clothes, hair styles, etc is a sure way to alienate them from you and have them zip their lips. This actually breeds deceit. To avoid a parent’s condescension a child will resort to tricks, lying and sneaking. I think most humans do this, not just children and teens.
The need for approval, belonging, acceptance, unconditional love is so strong that when these needs are not met people seek to have them met in any which way. So children who are harshly lectured, preached at, threatened and harshly punished are likely to become passive or actively aggressive and resort to MAS and other anti social behaviours.
What about the teens who are not harshly disciplined and have loving relationships with their parents and still experiment or use MAS? I am no psychologist but one possibility could be that their feelings of self worth could be low. Maybe they do not feel competent in anything, they may be bored, not academically or athletically oriented, and that need to feel adequate is not being met.
Research shows that children in very affluent families are much less passionate about activities and easily bored. Off course the definition of ‘loving relationships’ is another topic of discussion in itself.
Then intelligent, very motivated, well connected, engaged teens could very well experiment and their frequency of use will most likely be determined by their need for inner peace and calm.
The pressure to achieve and succeed is higher than ever in history. The competition for scholarships, financial aid, places in universities, approval and acceptance, knowing one’s purpose, understanding the meaning of life, the need for basic unconditional love, parent’s undivided attention is so intense that the need for MAS is not surprising. Youth today are faced with all these questions and needs and the falling away of deep traditional values, virtues, spirituality and religion leaves a big hole in them that needs to be filled. When MAS are used, dopamine is released in the brain, this is a highly pleasurable neurotransmitter much appreciated in times of anxiety.
Finally we can’t ignore the fact that youngsters whose parents use or were users of MAS are more likely to be users too.
So will they say YES to MAS? We can make great efforts to meet their psycho-emotional needs for importance, total acceptance, maintain deep trusting honest presence and connection with them, not over indulge them in ‘”things” and an easy life of no responsibilities, model deep values, virtues and faith, have lots of loving conversations about everything, encourage prayer, meditation, deep breathing, community service and and with that, they may say “NO” to Mind altering substances.
Note EFT ( Emotional Freedom Techniques or tapping), Yoga, sport and exercise are great in reducing anxiety as well as natural substances such as: Selenium, St. Johns Wort, high doses of Niacin ( Vit B3), and CBD (cannabidiol the medicinal, non psycho active component) of cannabis. These should be explored before anti depressants and MAS.
Listen and read your child’s behaviour to see if they are anxious and need you more deeply. Empower them to say ‘NO’ to drugs and alcohol.
Feel free to private message me for further enquiries about this topic.