Thursday, December 17, 2009

Childhood Addictions: Unacceptable, Abusive and Avoidance Behaviours

A new US survey has found that more and more American teens are participating in abusive and addictive behaviours i.e. smoking pot, abusing pain killers and using illicitly-obtained stimulants prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
15.9 percent of tenth graders reported using marijuana in the last month. The percentage of eighth graders who considered using ecstasy once or twice a dangerous activity decreased from 42.5 percent in 2004 to 26 percent in 2009.

Abusive Activities
It isn’t just drugs our kids are addicted to. Kids are now playing a very dangerous and abusive game called “the choking game”. This “game” is an abusive activity that involves them choking one another or using improvised nooses to cut off the essential oxygen supply to the brain, just long enough to feel “high” and not long enough to black out, hopefully.
Self Harm
Teens are also using sugary drinks and food as a drug. This comfort eating is causing obesity rates to soar. These are simply avoidance and coping strategies that children are using to avoid facing what's happening in their lives and in the world today. It's like saying that anything will do to get them away from reality.
Obesity in children has the effect of excluding a child from normal competitive activities, not just sports but social activities involving interactivity and relationships between the sexes. This is a more 'comfortable' place for the child to inhabit and once established, it is very difficult to leave.
Positive re-enforcement
Obesity in children can be induced by parents trying to deminstrate their love in an inappropriate way and because the food is provided by a loving, comforting person, the child associates the food with love and comfort. It is this positive re-enforcement that is difficult to overcome.

Technology abuse
Marijuana, pain medication, stimulants, the choking game or fast food are not necessarily the biggest “drugs” to which kids are addicted. They are using their iPods, DSIs, YouTube, reality TV and the modern cult of 'celebrity' as escapism.

They are doing this to shut down their minds, avoid dealing with their feelings and emotions. They have come to substitute these unpredictable and complex emotions with the simpler on/off “high” of being lead by technology and have become voyeurs to other people's distress and emotions, displayed to them on a screen, and categorised as 'entertainment.'

At What Cost?
The price that humanity will pay for raising a generation of substance, technology and artificially stimulated emotion addicts, is probably incalculable. We can certainly expect that teenagers using pot, painkillers, choking each other for kicks, etc will be unable to resolve their emotional and psychological issues, in this way.

Consequently, they face an increased rate not only of repetative substance dependence, underpinned by depression and anxiety and associated physiological disorders, e.g. hypertension, cardiac disease, malignancy, etc.

Puberty and Sex
Unresolved emotional conflicts during puberty lead to greater risk taking in sexual exploration and intercourse becomes the 'perceived' answer. After all that's what the glossy magazines, films, pop stars and popular personalities advocate.

If our young people turn to sex to resolve issues, we can expect higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases, over the next ten years. We have to anticipate more violence from both sexes, because our young people are evolving into adults with little or no real experience or guidance as to how they manage their emotions, including anger, envy and jealousy.

Avoidance of Disruptive Interruptions
There is also a higher likelihood of repeatedly turning to street drugs, to try to contain or avoid the uncomfortable feelings and emotions that arise everyday and in normal human interaction.

Their psyche is broadcasting emotional shockwaves that their immature brains do not understand and cannot, or do not want to, deal with. Therefore it grasps at a familiar avoidance tactic. The drug induced solution turns off or turns down, the level of consciousness and therefore the need to deal with this disruptive 'interruption.'

Life-threatening events
If the distraction becomes a life-threatening event, as in the 'choking' game, then the brain is forced to re-calculate it's priorities. The internal alarm systems trigger and the more dominant and instinctive reactions that are pre-programmed to sustain the life of any human, take over. They stabalises and normalises the body's physiological functions.

The release of adrenalin and nor-adrenalin during these traumatic events create a 'high' feeling, as well as dispelling and discarding any 'non'essential' thoughts, emotions and activities. The troubled thought have been extinguished but only for a limited space of time and is has been done at a huge cost to the body.

There are better ways to resolve troubled thoughts. Ways that are more effective and not only less damaging but also more beneficial and soothing to the psyche.

Muffled Senses
All of this activity can be reduced to the simple adage that you need to get 'high' to enjoy life and to fully participate in life's great adventure. We need to be intoxicated in some, less cognitive and have a more distorted or muffled sense of our present reality. This comes from the 'brand' and 'lifestyle' marketing that our children are faced with all day every day. They have grown up with it, you, as parents have not.

Don't Panic!
I believe there is still hope for our children and that hope is in the parents' hands. Your role, as a parent or guardian, is to show them the pleasure and joy that can exist in being with other people, interacting in a playful non-threatening way, listening to the experiences of their elders or people from other countries.

Show them the benefit of cooperation and collaborative play, the value of each link in the chain of events that leads to a succesful outcome and the resolution of troubling issues. The pessimistic view is too painful to endorse and with effort, it can be changed from this point on. As their parents or guardians, take the lead and break their addiction in a positive, loving and supportive way.

You are invited to share your experiences, successes and concerns with me here. Please post a comment.

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