Forgoing Chance- Building Your Own Mind

Our brains are at the center of our whole lives, wielding unimaginable power. (how’s that for a conundrum.)

From the time we are born our brain begins to make paths within itself, meaning it makes connections between cause and effect, thought and action.  The more frequently particular paths are used, the stronger that they get. If we are taught to retreat and conceal emotion, we will likely carry that into adulthood. If we learn to pay attention to the feelings of others and to empathize, that will likely become a part of our personality. This is not to discredit “nature vs. nurture”, because for some traits our mind will genetically carry predisposition. That doesn’t mean we can’t still hold power over our own actions/our own life.

The tendency towards addiction is a great example of one human psychological condition which may be caused by nature, nurture, or both. But how we get to the threshold of addiction is not what I am looking at tonight, at least not on an external level. I want to describe what happens to the mind during adolescence, to better argue my stance on prevention. I am trying to remain an easy read so I am not going to get too deep into the anatomy.

The human brain is still developing during adolescence. It is also maturing, and it matures from the back end first, towards the front. The back of our brain (above the spinal cord), is all of the emotional connections. The front of our brain is where logic and reasoning happens. In adolescence, we have all of the DRIVE but our BREAKS are not so strong. Not to mention all of the excitement that comes with the “first-times” for almost everything.

This explains why teens feel like they “know it all”, because they kind-of do… they just don’t have the experience or fully developed break system in place to live safely. A parent might feel like they are forced to steer something which is accelerating 200mph. A tough task, to say the least. But to let go is asking for disaster, although so is a permanent grounding.

Young people actually have a biological need to take risks and find independence. Communicating is so important during this time of their life.

When a young person finds their first “joint” or can of beer, they will probably NOT be thinking about this fact: they are actually in control of building their brain, and therefore, their life. When we’re young, we’re new to responsibility of that level, and the future may seem like something which will just one day land in our lap, all wrapped in a bow. Unless- a young person has been talked to, extensively (we learn by repetition, and need even more of that when we are preoccupied) by a caregiver, and/or have really read my book, which goes into all of this, but directed more towards them.

Just because young people can’t touch the future doesn’t mean they can’t see it. I spent my teenage years thinking nothing mattered and that the future would just work itself out. But the future is built everyday by the decisions that people choose to be every single day. People can easily weave themselves into a tangled web of carelessness, which takes a long time to untangle (time which would be better spent doing something else). When people are thoughtless about the actions that they take, that doesn’t mean that they’ll never have to think about them (so no one is really getting away with anything)

MY POINT

When a young person spends their weeks routinely turning to a drug or alcohol, even if it feels harmless, they are creating neuro-PATHWAYS in their mind. They are building their brain- now. The same brain that decides whether they get to be happy or sad.

The actions that they take, and even the thoughts that they think are building pathways, which get stronger with every single instance.

For every cause there is an effect.

And the hobby’s and habits that they let go of? Well, use it or loose it, because the mind not only is building pathways during this time of life, but it is also spending a great deal of time during adolescence destroying the connections which are no longer used. This is to clear out childhood behaviors, but if they neglect other behaviors, those will go out with the pile as well. I’m not saying they wont remember, but those habits will have to be re-formed.

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The way short-term pleasure affects the brain vs. the way happiness affects the brain.

 

Every adolescent person should understand at least a little bit about their own mind and the power they have over it during this important time of their life. The pathways which are strengthened during this time are much harder to be “swept-away” later, the way that childhood behavior does during this “pruning” stage. And addiction usually takes a lifetime of recovery to overcome.

 

 

Brushing it Aside

WHY talk to your little loved ones about drugs? Because… like an ostrich with its head in the sand, it is innefective NOT to talk to them about drugs.

  1. “Kids will be kids.”
  2. You know that addiction destroys lives.
  3. You know that addiction does not discriminate.
  4. I hope by now, you know that addiction is not an easy fix, for anyone.
  5. Drug addiction is preventable.
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An ostrich doesn’t actually stick their head in the sand. And neither should you.

 

1. “Kids will be kids.”

Of course there is truth in this statement! But it should not apply to avoidable, life-threatening situations. This endearing phrase should apply to toilet papering a house, or getting a Friday-school for climbing rooftops (hey, I’m a thrill seeker!) … not to eating poison or dropping out of school.

“God grant me the serinity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Your words, your attitude, and your actions have a serious impact on the lesser developed people in your life. If you are sincere they will at least hear your message. All children deserve to hear their loved one say, “eating and drinking poison is not the coolest thing a person can do. Dreaming and reaching your goals is the coolest thing a person can do.”

2. You know that addiction destroys lives.

If you haven’t witnessed a death to drugs or alcohol (you have got some good luck), I bet you can at least think of one addict that you know. It doesn’t matter if they’re in recovery or not (I hope they are!). Imagine this person as an innocent child, see their little face, and allow your heart to soften as you think of all the ways that their life, and the life of those around them have been effected by their addiction. Do you think they chose addiction? They didn’t. They may have chose to use, but they did not chose the way that their mind reacted to the drug. Do you think there were tears shed related to this addiction? Drama filled nights? Days spent paralyzed in pain? Mass amounts of work spilled down gigantic drains of hopefulness? Precious time lost, forever, to a drug?

All of these things are a part of the disease of addiction. To love an addict is to watch your loved one die a slow, disgraceful death. It is to lose them before they are even gone. The addict knows nothing but pain and euphoria. Either they are hurting, or they are using. And their instincts are screaming “YES, USE”. Enjoying life as it is, becomes unthinkable to the addict. Like a fairy tale, it becomes an unreal idea.

3. You know that addiction does not discriminate.

It is not just the kids in Section 8, or kids born into the party who are volnurable. Your teenager who breaks his leg and gets pain medicine from the doctor is very volnurable. I think it is so important that we all be aware of how volnurable pain medicine makes us.

Do you think your child has “better character” than a child who would use? No. It is not about character, it is about the random situations of life. In a school bathroom your child is very likely to be faced with drugs. When that happens, will they be depending on their own substance to make a decision? Or, maybe they will remember what their loved one has repeatedly told them, as well as what they have already decided. I would hope that as a caregiver, you’ve talked to this young person enough times that when they are finally faced with the inevitable situation, they will *instinctivly* say no. They wont even have to think about it, because you’ve already given them plenty of time to think about it. Years, idealy. My book “Lets Talk About Drugs”, goes over all of the most common drugs in detail, yet in a very understandable way, so that young people are able to form their opinions. They should already know what the different drugs are, and what they do. The book encourages the formation of unique opinions and individulized decision making. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my 13-year-old standing in that bathroom asking, “Well, what is it? What does it do?” and getting answers FROM ANOTHER 13 year old. No child should be trying to make a quick decision that way. *exasperation* Almost every child does.

4. I hope by now, you know that addiction is not an easy fix, for anyone.

If you think that you will be able to “fix” the situation AFTER you realize there is a problem, you are sorely mistaken. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m saying it is always SO much harder than having had talks before-hand. And not only that, but once they’ve used they have already opened the door… to be easily passed back through in the future. PREVENTION is key.

You might shout, not everyone is an addict!

That is true. Please weigh the losses from the gains.

Refer to my “Addictive Personality Type” chapter of the book. Prevention MAY not always be such a serious issue. There are whole family’s full of mild temperaments with not an addict in sight. But even then, brushing prevention aside is taking a needless gamble, because addiction is still possible, even within the most mild clans. Addiction destroys families and kills people. I think it is worth talking about.

5. Drug addiction is preventable.

That’s it. That sentance encompasses everything you will find in this blog.

 

 

Sincerely,

Nurse Allison

I’m here to help. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

 

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