What causes addiction

Psychologist Michael Dennis, PhD, shares advice for parents on what causes addiction in teens and why some kids are much more likely to become addicted than others
The Causes Of Addiction In Teenagers
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What causes addiction

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Parents often struggle with question: Why does addiction happen in my kid, but not somebody else's kid who use the same amount? Why does one kid become addicted and another doesn't? It is true that part of your risk for addiction is biological, much as it is with cholesterol or cancer. Part of it is environmental, that is, if you don't have drugs or alcohol around, you are not going to become addicted to them. The more you're exposed, the greater your risk. The third component is development. When you use, if you first try something over the age of 18, only 3 percent go on to become addicted. Of those who try marijuana under the age of 15, 25 percent of those kids go on to become addicted. The risk is very, very uneven. That's why you have to understand that it's partly biological and exposure and environment, and partly development. The fourth thing that tends to determine, is some kind of trauma. That trauma could be sexual, physical, emotional, it could also be trauma from the loss of a loved one, a child, a parent, a sibling. Those kinds of things, which are not only for the child, but for the parent. A parent may pull back after the loss of a child, and not give their child enough nurturing. That kind of rippling effect tends to turn teens to addiction.

Psychologist Michael Dennis, PhD, shares advice for parents on what causes addiction in teens and why some kids are much more likely to become addicted than others

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Michael Dennis, PhD

Psychologist

Michael Dennis, PhD, is a senior research psychologist and Director of the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center at Chestnut Health Systems in Normal, Illinois. Over the past 25 years his primary area of research has been to better understand and manage addiction and recovery over the life course. This includes multiple clinical trials to compare the effectiveness of adolescent treatment approaches and recovery support services, longitudinal studies with adolescents, adults and older adults to understand the predictors of entering and sustaining recovery, and creating the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center for teaching evidenced based assessment to support clinical decision making at the individual level and program evaluation. He has multiple awards for moving the field from science to practice, promoting diversity through practice based evidence and bringing more people into the field.

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