New Delhi, July 28 Teenage is usually the toughest phase; for both parents and teens. No one seems to understand anybody and it is chaos most of the time. To top it off, in 2022 teenagers are living completely digital lives, unlike any other previous generations. They have more access to all kinds of information and influence. Substance abuse is easily one of the top-most problems plaguing teens, and it seems to have got worse with easy access to a wide variety of dangerous and addictive substances.
Dr. Sapna Bangar, Psychiatrist and Head of Mpower The Centre in Mumbai, explains why teen substance abuse is so prevalent in today's times.
The Why Of It?
Dr. Bangar: Substances have always had a diabolical bond with teens, who at a delicate stage of development become likely candidates prone to abuse substances. Most teenagers go through difficult stages of self-identity, it is an age where they are trying to understand their place in the world. Common problems during this time are self-doubt, identity crisis, and low self-esteem. Teens may also suffer from emotional angst and feel misunderstood by the world, especially parents and teachers. They do feel they are capable of making decisions, but biologically their brain is not well developed yet. This makes this age group more impulsive or prone to making decisions without weighing the pros and cons of a situation. Another reason why teens are drawn toward substances can be attributed to them being developmentally in a novelty-seeking phase where they want to try new things and pay little or no heed to consequences.
To add to the stage of life, external factors may also leave teens vulnerable. Not being accepted by peer groups, being bullied, coming from families where parents have mental health issues or even having a family history of substance abuse among many similar reasons line up when identifying the cause. To add to it, teens are highly influenced by everything happening on social media. They aspire to have, do and be like another influential peer or aspirational celebrity. A false representation and aspirational qualities attached to substances on social media create FOMO
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