Antonio Molina: Addictions during adolescence.
The Director of the Fromm Bienestar center talks to us about addictions and adolescence.
Adolescence is one of the most decisive stages of life when it comes to establishing habits and personality patterns, for better or worse.
As for the good, we can highlight the opportunities to develop skills in a vocational way (thanks to free time and a way of life in which we are exposed to a greater variety of stimuli), but as for the bad, it is mandatory to talk about something that can cancel out the above: addictions..
Although addictions in adolescents are not usually based on "hard drugs" such as heroin or cocaine, they are exposed to others that are more socially accepted or that are not even seen as addiction disorders because they do not involve substance consumption. In addition, trends in addictive behaviors are constantly changing, making it difficult for parents to protect their children.
For the characteristics of the world of addictions in adolescence, we spoke to Antonio Molina Serrano we spoke with Antonio Molina Serrano, Founder and Director of Fromm Bienestar, a therapy center specializing in people who have developed dependence to the consumption of substances or to the realization of harmful actions such as constant gambling.
Interview with Antonio Molina: addictions and adolescents
Antonio Molina is part of the Fromm Bienestar team.a therapy center located in Mairena del Aljarafe (Seville).
What are the types of addictions to which the Spanish adolescent population is most exposed?
In recent times we are experiencing a rather worrying boom in behavioral addictions, also known as addictive behaviors. These include pathological gambling or pathological gambling, cell phone addiction or nomophobia, closely related to the use of social networks and the Internet. And some already known, such as video game addiction.
Among the addictions that involve the consumption of some substance, alcoholism or alcohol addiction, tobacco addiction, which is now changing its format to the bong, being even more harmful than tobacco. And of course the consumption of THC present in cannabis and hashish joints, sometimes mixed with other opioid substances that increase the risk of suffering serious mental illnesses. Much research is also being done on the risks of electronic cigarettes and vapes, which camouflage their addictive potential in electronic devices based on resistors and lights.
In recent years, online gambling houses have proliferated. Given that the current generation of teenagers is made up of digital natives, are they particularly vulnerable to this format of gambling participation?
The exponential increase in cases of pathological gambling among young people and adolescents has set off alarm bells among families, experts and now it seems that public administrations as well.
In the digital era, where everything revolves around the latest generation of mobiles and smartphones, large corporations are already adapting their products to the profile of future consumers who sometimes do not even reach the age of majority. And not only by favoring accessibility to such gaming platforms, but also by projecting on this type of practices icons and models of success for young people and adolescents through advertising that bombards children in our country on a daily basis.
Among young people, the consumption of some drugs has long been seen as an element of popularity. What can be done to fight against this?
We could start by questioning some references among young people and also among adults, who often contribute without realizing it to extol and highlight some figures from the world of sports, songs and also television with a scale of values based on the superficial and the material.
These icons and role models for young people in our country introduce in a very sibylline way the idea of having versus being, and this obviously translates into the consumption of anything, including substances and drugs.
In the U.S., teenagers are massively switching from tobacco consumption to electronic cigarettes, to the point that Smoking cigarettes in this age group is seen as something relatively rare. Are there any signs that the same thing will soon happen here?
I was already pointing out earlier this change in consumption patterns, which nevertheless continue to put health and the development of addictive behaviors among our young people and adolescents at risk.
Now the cool thing, the millennial thing, smoking in bong or vape, when it is already known that the risks are the same or very similar to those of other substances such as tobacco. It is as if some economic interests want us to get high by being all prettier, with lights, smoke and color.
How do psychologists work to intervene in cases of adolescents who have developed addictions?
The methodology of each professional is very personal. In our center, Fromm Bienestar, specialized in the treatment of adolescents, families and addictions, we put into practice our own methodology that focuses on listening and self-knowledge as the basis for personal improvement and growth.
We believe that telling an adolescent not to smoke joints, for example, is not very helpful. We prefer that it is the adolescent himself who comes to the conclusion that smoking joints limits his capabilities and well-being.
How does collaboration with family members take place?
Working with the young patient's emotional and family environment is a priority. However, there is no treatment without trust, and that is why we are scrupulous with confidentiality in the therapeutic praxis.
In this sense, we limit ourselves to work on the difficulty encountered individually and independently with each member of the family, generating an introspective look that allows us to identify the co-responsibility in each of the elements that make up the nucleus of coexistence. Interventions and family therapies are a fundamental part of the process, and the families are very grateful for it, because they perceive our encouragement and support at every moment.
What else is needed for us to culturally create barriers to prevent adolescents from falling into addiction?
It is a complex and very broad topic, because we think that addiction is present in the cultural and belief system itself as a permanent symbiosis. In a capitalist system, where the consumer society is in turn consumed by this idea of having versus being or being as much as one has, any form of consumption is licit and legitimate.
We have exhausted a large part of the planet's natural resources as well as destroyed the habitat of millions of living beings with whom we share our home. And in this absurd and destructive idea of predation we are even allowing some forms of consumption of people. How could we not consume ourselves?
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)