Impacts of Community Attachments on Substance Use in Adolescents


Impacts of Community Attachments on Substance Use in Adolescents

Many adolescents who struggle with mental health or substance abuse do not have healthy community attachments. Adolescents who lack the necessary skills to connect with individuals and a community often have more difficulty maintaining good mental health and have an increased likelihood of substance abuse. However, teens can learn how to build and maintain healthy community attachments. By learning these skills, they can be involved in a community as adolescents and create new ones as they become adults.

What Are Healthy Community Attachments?

Every adolescent has relationships in their lives, including family, peers, and teachers. Depending on the individual and the situation, these relationships can vary. While some are acquaintances, others are romantic or deep friendships. Healthy community attachments include different levels of healthy relationships and ties to the community as a whole.

Healthy Relationships

A healthy relationship between two individuals is built on trust and support. While the style of the relationship will vary, trust and support help each person to feel safe. This means that each person can be open, honest, and present without fear. To have a healthy relationship, both people must put effort into improving communication, compromising, creating and respecting boundaries, and caring for the other. While these things are not always easy, healthy relationships depend on them.

Healthy individual relationships are the foundation of a community. While these relationships will vary in depth and type, healthy communities rely on them. Such relationships help individuals of all ages, including adolescents, feel connected with the community as a whole. A community may be a group of many people, but each person is an individual, which makes these particular relationships the heart of the community.

Community Ties

Connecting with a community helps adolescents to feel like they are part of a group. It provides a sense of belonging and safety and is important during this phase of development. When teens have community ties, it does not mean that they participate in every community event. Instead, community ties describe the sensation of knowing they belong. This means they feel welcomed in a community and know they are missed when they are not there.

Lack of Healthy Community Attachments

Building healthy community attachments is hard for adolescents, particularly for those who are struggling with mental health challenges and substance abuse. However, a lack of healthy community attachments can also increase a teen’s risk of such problems.

Mental Health

Adolescents are social creatures. Finding a community where they experience truly healthy friendships and relationships is incredibly valuable for their mental health. Having a community is important at any age, but especially during adolescence, which is a vulnerable period for the onset of mental health problems. Research has found that approximately half of all mental health disorders emerge by the age of 14. While it will vary for each teen, many of these mental health problems continue into adulthood.

Building healthy community attachments can help. Research has found that adolescents who have stronger close friendships have higher self-worth and are less likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders (as adolescents and adults). By having healthy relationships, teens are more prepared to manage key social developmental tasks as they enter late adolescence and early adulthood.

Addiction Risk

Adolescents who struggle with mental health disorders or do not have community attachments are often lonely and struggle with negative emotions. This can cause them to turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the symptoms and pain they are experiencing. However, over time substance use can turn into addiction.

When teens make strong community attachments, they feel supported and cared for. At some point, they will experience negative emotions. However, with a community, they have others who they can turn to for support. Therefore, communities help to decrease addiction risk for adolescents.

Building and Maintaining Community Attachments

For adolescents to have community attachments, they must learn how to build the skills necessary to connect with others. This involves working on social skills, such as learning how to respond in certain situations and how to communicate clearly with another person. When a teen is struggling with an untreated mental health disorder or substance abuse, these skills are often challenging.

Yet, every adolescent can learn how to build and maintain community attachments. While there are many ways to learn these skills, working with a treatment facility equips adolescents with the knowledge and practice of skills for healthy socializing. This will include learning verbal and non-verbal communication, how to effectively communicate, and how to create bonds in a community.

A treatment facility offers the space and support to practice these skills. Social skills, like other skills, take time to learn. By participating in group therapy and group events, teens can develop new ways to communicate. Such an environment provides ideal support, with mental health care professionals and peers there to help.

Having a solid connection with a community means having healthy relationships and an emotional connection with the specific community. However, many teens lack this vital connection to others. As a result, they are at increased risk of mental health disorders and substance use. However, teens can learn how to build healthy individual and community connections. At Sustain Recovery, we understand that many teens who struggle with mental health and addiction need help learning how to make social connections. We offer holistic and individualized care for each client and help them to grow. The skills they learn at Sustain Recovery will help them to heal and succeed as an adolescent and adult. To learn more, call (949) 407-9052 today.