Are you at risk of addiction? Addiction is an "equal opportunity employer" —anyone is at risk of addiction —rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Catholic, Protestant or Jewish. You probably have friends who seem to "have it all" but can't control their drinking. There are risk factors that make some people more prone to addiction and substance abuse than others. They include: Your family: You are at risk of addicion, if your parents: abuse alcohol, nicotine or drugs are abusive to, or neglectful, of you or your siblings suffer from mental illness are very stressed (financial problems, lots of fighting) aren't around (separation, divorce, or death) As a kid: You are at risk of addiction, if you: were aggressive, really shy, or really sensitive had a hard time expressing your feelings had a hard time dealing with stress had problems with relationships As a young teen: You are at risk of addiction, if you: failed a lot of classes, cut class, or dropped out had unprotected sex felt suicidal or had mental health problems were rebellious, non-conformist, and had trouble with authority had feelings of failure, low self-esteem and not much self confidence If one or two of these apply to you, that doesn't mean you're going to become an addict. But if a lot of them make sense, it's a reason for you to learn more about substance abuse and addiction.
Preventing problems in your future If you're at risk, or you've experienced some of the warning signs above, you need to be really careful about your use of alcohol and drugs —if not avoid them completely. Here are some ways to help prevent having a serious substance abuse problem even if you are at risk of addiction: Don't repeat patterns that don't work If you see your parents or other adults using drugs and alcohol to "solve problems," you know it doesn't work. It never solves problems, it only creates them. Make a different choice for YOUR life. Focus on doing something valuable to YOU If your parents aren't there for you, find people who are and will be there for you. Get involved with an activity that you and your friends or school think is valuable —sports, honor society, clubs. Get some distance from your dysfunctional family If one or both of your parents abuse drugs or alcohol, you need a new frame of reference. Try to connect with school or community groups, or members of your family (aunts, uncles) who are interested in your welfare. Pick friends who support your decisions Statistics show that if your friends all use drugs and alcohol, chances are you will, too. Hang with people who don't need substances to have a good time or feel cool. Get smart If you knew that cancer or heart disease ran in your family and you were at high risk, you'd be smart to learn as much about it as possible, and do everything you could to protect your health. Treat substance abuse and addiction the same way. (Use the resources in this section to learn more.) Don't buy the hype Smoking isn't cool. Neither is being a drunk. Smoking is not allowed in a lot of places, and people who drink irresponsibly are just foolish. Forget about the "cool" images the media tries to sell you on, and make up your mind. own Don't let shame and ego get in your way We'll say it again: addiction is an illness that requires professional help. Like heart disease or cancer it's nothing to be ashamed of. NEVER let feelings of shame or your ego (the "I can control it myself" syndrome) EVER get in the way of your getting help. Resources If you or someone one you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol, contact these resources:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at www.samhsa.gov —Free information and other resources on alcoholism National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence (NCADD) 800-NCA-CALL, www.ncadd.org Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) www.aa.org —Free, confidential meetings in every city. Literature, support. Alateen www.alateen.org —Free, confidential meetings in many cities for teens who have to deal with alcoholics. Literature, support. Alcohol/Drug Abuse Referral Hotline 800-ALCOHOL (800 252-6465)
Learn about the risk of addiction and read helpful information at BeingGirl.com.