Are you a parent who is concerned about their child's smoking habit? Perhaps you're concerned about your own addiction that started when you were a teenager?
When we think of adolescent smoking, we envision an innocent kid surrounded by their buddies who pressure them into taking that one puff of a cigarette before it becomes routine. However, we don't take enough time to acknowledge that there may be reasons other than peer pressure that influence a child to adopt this new habit.
From research and experience, we have found that a common cause of teen smoking – and any drug use, including alcohol – may be attributed to depleting mental health. That said, before we are ready to punish young ones who may be crying for help, let's look at some contributing factors and signs that they may be struggling with mental health issues.
According to doctors' findings published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, teen smoking commonly starts around age 15. It is related to what they consider "psychiatric distress." Stressors are due to environmental and physical conditions related to their socioeconomic positions. Basically, those with more problematic surroundings or circumstances are considered high risk and tend to be more prone to early and frequent smoking and drug use.
Here are some of the common stressors for adolescents that can lead to adolescent smoking.
We are all familiar with this one, so there's no need to expand. Now that we've finally reached a time where there are more discussions about bullying, we can become more compassionate and patient with teens. Offer them support and understanding and do everything to help empower them.
The academic environment is harsh enough. Having to go home to a chaotic household can cause even more of a strain. Whether it be pressure from parents, financial instability, or troublesome relationships, numerous factors contribute to codependent behavior.
Environmental stressors contribute to the internal state of being. Teenagers often experience body dysmorphia, which is an obsession with a perceived flaw in physical appearance. They also may feel negative due to social, economic, or academic status. Feelings of inadequacy deteriorate a person's mental state, especially at a young age.
What are the signs?
Some signs are more evident than others, but some are not easy to catch. Here are some of the most common signs of adolescent stress:
Sudden change in appetite
Lack of interest in hobbies
Poor academic performance
New habits, such as smoking.
Generally, parents view smoking or substance use as the cause of a teen's spiral downwards. However, you could argue that it is more of a symptom rather than a reason, and there are ways to combat these negative stressors.
What could you do?
The most important first step is to pay attention and listen. Remember, the best thing for your child is knowing that they are heard, respected, and understood. This creates a safe environment for them to be open.
You've probably been there yourself but trying to get through to your kids can be a struggle. Be sure to try your best to not project your own feelings and frustration onto them.
It is also essential to understand the signs of codependency. All it really comes down to is escapism and the actions, people, and things we attach to that aid in escaping from our current reality. At a young age, without proper support, one cannot manage these things on their own. That's where you come in with all your love and resources.