Complacency can be a dangerous feeling to have for the growing mind of a teenager. When the feeling progresses into boredom, it can also lead to experimentation involving promiscuous sexual activity, delinquency and especially drug or alcohol abuse. Preventing these behaviors is essential in allowing a teen to reach his or her potential, but research shows it is an uphill battle. While most studies concerned with boredom or complacency and their relation with substance use are more focused on relapse, the factors that can lead to drug or alcohol initiation are similar.
First of all, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found that bored teens had a 50 percent greater likelihood to experiment with alcohol or other substances. Other interesting findings suggested that the risk of substance use approximately doubled for teens that had $25 or more per week in spending money. Overall, the survey results showed that adolescents who are given more opportunities and resources are more prone to access different drugs.
In the 2008 study, “Listening to our clients: the prevention of relapse,” 335 addicts who had completed a treatment program for drug abuse listed boredom as one of the primary reasons for returning to alcohol or other illicit agents. Further, author Michael Levy said that most respondents reported not knowing what to do with their free time after removing dependent desires from their schedule. When a person is stricken with addiction, he or she may spend their entire routines obtaining, using and recovering from various substances. Without any other productive or engaging alternatives, many addicts return to drugs or alcohol just to occupy their time again.
According to David Sack, M.D., Addiction Psychiatrist & Mental Health Expert and CEO of Promises Treatment Centers, “Drugs and alcohol are the organizing principle of an addict’s life. When those are removed, there is a void that needs to be filled with healthy pursuits, or boredom and isolation can set in. It takes time to figure out the balance between having enough free time to relax and enjoy life, but not so much that the old lifestyle begins to look more desirable.”
Dr. Sack also recommends healthy distractions to prevent boredom from initiating or restarting substance use. For parents, he added that teens should be encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities, like a sports team, community college classes or volunteer organizations so they stay moderately busy. Depending on what is most comfortable for the child, certain hobbies or life passions can be performed time and time again while others may wish to try something new.
If you or your child is struggling with substance abuse, help is available. Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is a facility that specializes in treating adolescents and teenagers struggling with substance abuse, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. Call us at any time to speak with a professional today.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer