Young people face a multitude of challenges during their adolescence. During this crucial period of development there are significant changes that are experienced physically, psychologically and socially. However, very few of these challenges have the potential to affect a young person’s life in a more significant way than the decisions made about alcohol and drugs. These types of decisions influence health, school, work and the future. For those young people who have found sobriety, there are unique challenges in regards to interaction with an ever changing and evolving world. However, there are ways that young people who are sober can adopt to daily living without substances.
Unique Challenges for Young People
There are a couple of main points that need to be emphasized regarding substance abuse among young people. Firstly, the use of drugs and alcohol during this crucial period when both the body and brain are still forming and maturing increases future risk of addiction dramatically. Studies have indicated that young people who start using substances before age 15 are five times more likely to develop substance abuse and dependence. Secondly, the choice to use drugs and alcohol among young people can be strongly dictated by their environment—whether it is family environment, peer pressure and interaction and the availability of drugs and alcohol within their environment. Additionally, there also can be family history issues of substance abuse dependence as well as genetic considerations. For young people who are still in their formative years of development, the integration of all of these factors can create a dynamic environment for substance abuse to take root.
Tips for Those Who Are Young and Sober
There are several ways in which young people can thrive in sobriety despite the challenges that can present themselves in their day-to-day life. Some of these tips can include the following:
- Don’t Be Afraid to Say No: Peer pressure is a significant factor in young person’s development. If someone is putting pressure to do something that’s not right (such as using drugs and alcohol), it is alright to say no. Additionally, pay attention to the circle of friends that one hangs around with. If a young person is hanging out in a group in which the majority of kids are drinking alcohol or using drugs to get high, making new friends is highly advisable.
- Make Connections with Your Parents or Other Adults: Having people that can be relied on–people you can talk to about life and life’s challenges and your decisions about alcohol and drugs– is very important. The opportunity to benefit from someone else’s life experiences can help put things in perspective and can be invaluable.
- Get Educated about Alcohol and Drugs: One of the main ways that young people can stay sober is to confront the myths and misconceptions that are out there floating around concerning drugs and alcohol. What is being said amongst friends and put on the internet on social media and in chat rooms oftentimes are inaccurate and can potentially be damaging. Your ability to make the right decisions includes getting educated.
- Be a Role Model and Set a Positive Example: The most important point regarding young people who desire to be sober is to remember that what one does is more important than what one says. Taking responsibility for one’s own life, your health and your safety is first priority. Speaking up about what alcohol and drugs are doing to your friends and your community helps reinforce one’s own commitment to their well-being.
- Get Help! The most important tip for young people who want to get or stay sober is to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with substance use and abuse. Finding an adolescent drug and alcohol rehab treatment center is essential.