By Dr Paras
The concept of e-cigarette was introduced as an alternative to regular cigarettes but it too proved to be substantially harmful for health as it unintentionally became a gateway to traditional cigarette smoking. The route that teens take to addiction has a lot to do with family understanding and cultural awareness.
Open communication between parents and children is very important. Is the communication an open kind where the conversation is fluid and flowing? Or is it the one where parents have set hierarchical levels where children cannot reach out to them in case of any interaction? If they are punished for being honest, then they are more susceptible to social ills like addiction.
The second thing which makes for an important part of the parent-child relationship is whether the child is respected and treated as an adult with autonomy. Contrary to popular belief, respect is not a one-sided element in favour of parents alone, but needs to extend to children as well. This will help them be accountable for their actions. If communication is blocked, another passageway opens up where teenagers look for addictive outlets for their frustration.
Often, children develop habits by simply mimicking their parents. They end up enacting models their parents adopt to deal with pressure, which may not be the best route. In fact, in certain situations, it is important to see if parents are in need of help or counselling. Several adults are caught up in their own unresolved emotions to see that their children need them as well and end up relaxing boundaries.
When parents are not available for their teens or are not equipped enough to handle their problems, he/she might end up feeling alone. They should be treated with counselling and gentle guidance in order for them to avoid the trap of addiction.
Counsellors can be a guiding light who do not belong to their personal ecosystem and can offer a fresh third-person perspective. They can be the medium for a free-flowing conversation for troubled children and help them realise their potential, which is not overshadowed by addiction.
It is not surprising that the environment often impacts a teen’s mind. They might be pressured into taking up a wrong path by their peers. However, there is always help. However, the collective shaming has to stop. Parents and caregivers play a very important role in removing these hurdles.
Teens require a safe space to openly communicate and interact with elders and friends to discuss problems as well as their dreams and vision for the future. The more they can express themselves, the less they will rely on addiction to escape their grim reality. They tend to distract themselves with elements like drugs and others which numb them to the pain or emotions flowing through them.
(The writer is life-leadership coach and founder of Matrrix.)