Chemical Addiction is mainly an adult disease with a childhood onset. Why an adult disease? Because of its progressive nature, addiction does not usually become so problematic and disturbing to a person's life until its later stages. By then the victim has reached adulthood. At that point family life, relationships, job and even health begin to falter due to the addiction, regardless of the drug of choice. The "drug of choice" can be most any addicting substance including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and narcotic prescription medications.
Why childhood onset? Recent science has revealed two very important truths. First, addicting substances including alcohol and tobacco cause intense stimulation of the pleasure center of the brain by releasing dopamine, an important neurotransmitter. Second, the more immature the brain stimulated, the more likely the brain will be permanently altered (toward addiction). Considering the fact that the average human brain does not reach full maturity until the mid-twenties, it is easy to see that youngsters are at great risk for addiction because the average age of the first drink of alcohol is only 13 years of age.
What does this mean in day-to-day living? As our children are using tobacco, alcohol and other addicting substances much earlier than we think, many of them are well into transition to full blown addiction before many parents realize they are even experimenting. Consequently, when we discover their use because of "red eyes", a DUI or finding a joint, they well past the timeframe that effective prevention can be implemented.
What is the connection between early alcohol and tobacco use and the decision by kids or adults to use drugs? Once the immature brain has been permanently altered by exposure to alcohol or tobacco, the choice to move on to addicting drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, Oxycontin and methamphetamines is an easy one. The social taboos against drugs and the fear of danger are totally erased from this altered young, addicted brain.
Many believe that addiction is a matter of fate or even a single gene. While there are some racial, ethnic and geographic differences in addiction rates, virtually no American can claim that he or she hasn't at least one relative with an addiction. Therefore, all children are potential adult drug addicts later in life. Fortunately, as parents, educators and professionals, we don't have to sit back and just hope that our children will grow up to be sober citizens. Various programs and counselling session are available to make you sure that your child will not become an adict or alcoholic