Western culture doesn’t widely embrace right-of-passage ceremonies as early people once did.As modern children transition into adulthood, pushing authority boundaries and engaging in high-risk behaviors like drinking and drug experimentation have become accepted features of adolescence. But now, with fentanyl addictions on the rise, and other dangerous drugs, experimentation is now causing immediate and early death. Let’s discuss the role of substance abuse in arrested development.
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Substance Abuse and Failure to Launch
Scientific evidence shows that teen substance abuse can impact the prefrontal cortex’s brain structures responsible for higher-order decision making, judgment, risk assessment, mood regulation, and impulse control.
This long-term consequence of teen drug or alcohol abuse is not widely discussed or considered but can profoundly impact their future.
Studies on How Substance Abuse Causes Arrested Development
Using PET scan technology, Merrill Norton, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Georgia, used actual brain imaging to identify how teen substance abuse interferes with brain development, resulting in arrested development.
When a teen or young adult veers off into substance abuse, it can disrupt the learning and maturation process, stunting emotional growth. It slows to a crawl.
Adulting? What’s That?
This delayed emotional development is usually first noticed in early adulthood when the individual’s maturity level seems stuck at the level of a young teen’s, including ingrained immature habits and thought processes.
This can lead to the young adult’s unwillingness or inability to embrace “adulting”—the practice of living life as a functioning adult in society—resulting in the syndrome commonly referred to as “failure to launch.”
Once addictive behaviors have been treated, and the young adult’s path redirected, there is a need for proactive and structured guidance to help them regain their footing.
An emphasis on personal responsibility and accountability can help restore lost dreams and re-orient the young person back on course through identifiable goals and tactical life skill instruction.
The Importance of Personal Accountability
Personal accountability includes meeting expectations towards self-declared goals and learning how to adhere to a schedule and manage time. They may need to learn basic personal finance skills so they will be able to meet their financial obligations as adults.
The importance of fitness and nutrition needs to be emphasized, as addiction can affect overall health. Accountability to others, nurturing relationships, and learning effective communication skills are also vital to recovery.