It is common to find news pieces, blog articles, Facebook posts, and more detailing stories of young school students falling into the trap of substance abuse. Students, their parents and people close to them are coming forward to share stories of how addiction has completely destroyed their lives. They want to get their story out so that other children do not fall into the same cycle of self-destruction. There is enough help available today that can help students with their addictions. However, what are the factors that encourage addiction among certain students? Let’s find out.
Predisposition to addiction does not mean that a child will become addicted at some point, a family history only increases the probability of addiction. Such students may be more vulnerable to turn to an addictive substance when faced with a stressful situation.
Mental illness is not limited by age. At a young age, when kids do not completely understand mental health, problems like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders and others can be even scarier. In an attempt to cope with these issues, they may turn to substance abuse. It falls in the hands of adults around them to identify such problems, get proper treatment and help their situation.
Research has shown that different people react to alcohol differently depending on their metabolism. Enzymes are involved in the breakdown of alcohol and its elimination from the body. Some children may have enzymes that make them more susceptible to alcohol addiction. That is the reason some people may drink more and not feel intoxicated, while others may get addicted even with a small amount.
Academic & Peer Pressure
School is a place for children to thrive, but it can become the stressor if they do not understand how to deal with the situations they face. Some students may not be able to cope up with the academic pressures of the school. This can have many reasons. The teacher’s pedagogy may not work for them, lack of focus, or something else. Then, there are peer groups in school that may put pressure on them to dress, walk, and talk in a certain way. Often times, use of alcohols and drugs can come from giving into these pressures or as a mechanism to deal with them.
Improving the School Environment
A positive school environment helps students focus on their academic performance and overall development. Attitude of teachers, interpersonal relationships of the students, general administration, and more contribute towards the environment of a school. The curriculum and what it emphasizes on also has a bearing on the school environment. Teaching and focusing on social-emotional skills help in improving the school environment and gives students the tools to stay away from addictions.
Schools can use structured curricula like SEL Adventures that have designed dedicated program for addiction prevention. It includes lessons on self-awareness, resisting peer pressure, learning to empathize and display emotions, decision making and future planning. It prepares the students and helps reduce the probability of the students falling into an addiction trap.