India ranks at 140 out of 150 countries in the world on the happiness index; making it one of the unhappiest countries in the world. This permeates down to adolescents as well and could lead to unhappy choices of alcoholism and binge drinking to cope with the chaos.
Dr. Paras, Founder, Matrix, a life leadership coach and corporate training firm, believes that the solution for this ginormous issue lies in our minds. According to him, the mind is the greatest tool which affects all the facets of a human, be it his relationships, studies, career or self-esteem. Dr. Paras helps you understand the importance of focusing on the pragmatic and constructive elements of life. Quite often, peer pressure drives youngsters to plunge themselves into an endeavor of perfection. However, no one is perfect and you have to help your young adult to see that.
In order to address this question, he states: "Let us first tackle some of the most important questions." What is it like being an adolescent? What does an adolescent want? How addictions are confused as mechanisms to escape routes?
Being an adolescent is often the inception of what can be regarded as a recognition crisis. They are on the cusp of being adults and therefore, have an understanding of how to emulate an adult, but their mental development is still taking small steps from being that of a child to a grown person.
Having said that, it does not mean that teenagers are children who are not meant to be taken seriously. On the contrary, they are bright and agile minds who have the potential to bring in new thoughts.
However, many adolescents are quashed under the sense of building an individuality way too fast that coaxes them towards alcoholism. Their need to prove themselves and a misguided sense of emulating what they think is right push them towards taking extreme steps.
The Play of Strokes
As per Dr. Eric Berne, founder of The Transactional Analysis Movement in Psychotherapy, every emotion, encouraging or defeating can be classified into a broad category of 'strokes'. Every human, and not just a teenager, craves for some sort of a stroke or a reaction to feel valued or show their presence.
In the case of teenagers, they are in a psychological and emotional whirlwind in which they resort to activities that earn them attention and validation. These strokes can either be positive or negative, as long as they yield any sort of reaction. Teenagers require heavy attention and if not catered to, they can resort to a plethora of activities leading to addiction...
These activities are divided into withdrawal, rituals, past times, activities, games, and intimacy. Withdrawal, as the name suggests, resonates with being in a cocoon or a shell that will shield them from the world and disengage them from feeling anything at all. The feeling of detachment, with no one to turn to can lead a teenager into finding solace in the numbness of alcohol.
Lack of intimacy or affection, especially from the parents can also account for the teenagers feeling left out or cast aside. Peer pressure or from someone within the family can 'inspire' them to take up alcohol as a coping mechanism. In fact, they do end up mimicking those around them who themselves choose escapism as a solution for all their problems.
They do not regard mental health as an important parameter for self-development which sends out a clear message to the teenager who himself/herself is battling their psychological upheaval. This is a clear cut case of a bad role model.
Last but not least, is the inner voice. The inner voice of a teenager, or even an adult for that matter plays a huge role in making a person or breaking him. In teenagers, the voice is often an echo of those around him/her.
If nestled amidst a positive environment, the inner voice is encouraging. However, in contrasting situations, the inner voice is the one that brings the child down and as a result, he/she resorts to alcoholism to quieten down that voice.
How to Combat Emotionally Stimulated Alcoholism?
The good news is that there are ways to turn the tables around on binge alcoholism and addiction in adolescents. It is all about building a better lifestyle and awareness with respect to mental health. Here are some of the ways which may help:
1) Open culture in schools, colleges, and family:
Communication is the key to all distress. An open and healthy interaction in places like home, school/college, and social circle can help a teenager normalise to the fact that it is okay to feel the mental pressure and emotionally distraught and that help is always available when they need it. Alcoholism is not the way to go.
2) Creating a culture that supports mental health:
Charity begins at home and so does the acceptance of mental health. Parents, teachers, and other elders of a social group can create a safe space for teenagers to talk to heart's content and interact with them about anything that is bothering them. It is important that these adults are able to accept it without prejudices and judgments.
3) Parents to stop comparing children on their weaknesses
The culture of encouraging the present qualities must take over the detrimental practice of parents pointing out their children's weakness in the name of self-development. Since parents and teachers directly influence the mindset of the children, it is important for them to set a space that promotes positive psychology and mindfulness.
4) Exercise – Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness techniques
One can never discount the importance of recreational activities and exercise. It releases endorphins, also known as happy hormones, which prepare the body to take on physical stress, but also shapes the brain into taking any sort of mental pressures. Therefore, instead of going for that bottle, exercising can help boost greater mental health and keep addiction at bay.
5) Psycho-education textbook from class KG till post-graduation
While the Indian education system is exemplary when it comes to creating credible engineers, doctors, and lawyers, what it really needs is to create a student force which is happy and mentally strong. It is, therefore, important to include psycho-education as a subject right from KG to higher education.
6) Elders taking mental support, children can emulate
As discussed, teenagers emulate what they see around them and if they witness an adult take mental health seriously, they too will take that path to self-care and emotional well-being.
Addiction arises from unresolved issues and the unresolved issues emanate from the lack of communication. Integrating communication in daily lives can help keep mental and psychological issues at bay, which will, in turn, avert the pathway to any sort of addiction.