By Antonio Floriani *
Ibiza, Policlinic Institute: young people from around the world (and also from Italy) hospitalized with broken limbs – at best – after balconing from the hotel room: a dip in the pool, from the terrace of the 3rd, 4th , 5th floor of the building. Or the flambé (vaporize a flammable liquid on the body and burn it), the chocking game (game of strangulation) on themselves or on others. Until ghost riding or car surfing, where the car becomes the means to create the buzz, leaving the steering once it has been launched at high speed, or by going up on the roof while it is moving. All this also applies to public transport, especially trains and subway cars, with the additional risk of being electrocuted by the power grid to 20,000 volts (more volts, volts or less, depending on the line or in the country …). On the subject of the train station planking, or the delusional “game” to await the arrival of the train lying between the rails, with the aim of coming movies to be uploaded to online video platforms, but resulting in no always come out alive.
Against behaviors with obvious risks and so high, may seem like the mode of reduced danger of binge drinking, taking larger amounts of alcohol in a very short span of time (risk: death by alcohol coma or permanent brain damage); or more and the use of alcohol, not ingested, but hired through ocular conjunctiva with eyeballing, or by paying very high alcohol content spirits (vodka, brandy, distilled) in the eye and taking the liquid in contact with them for a few seconds (risk: permanent blindness).
Let alone at this point as it may seem trivial to mention between risk behaviors cannabis use: almost all of the parents who have read the above lines would claim, referring to the children, “you’d better take some spinel sometimes …”.
And here is the point: the processes of normalization of certain behaviors, as well as their diffusion also through electronic means (blog, video, etc.) Have meant that among young people, the percentage of those who have risk behaviors to health has risen dramatically over the past 20 years. The Ministerial data indicate a very high percentage, among adolescents, regular consumers of alcohol (60%) and in ways binge drinking (25%); follow: cannabis (25%), cocaine (2.7%), ecstasy (2.6%) and heroin (1.4%).
If the risk and the search for strong sensations (sensation seeking) become for many young people a value to be achieved through the conduct described in the preceding lines, with regard to psychotropic substances (alcohol and drugs), often their consumption is not intended as a health risk, but as a “normal” behavior. But in this case the concept of “standard” (in fact, in statistics, synonymous with “fashion”, which is the value that appears most frequently in the population that is considered, the teenagers here) does not coincide with that of behavior most likely to ensure health.
The generalization “everybody does it”, frequently used by teenagers in relation to the use of alcohol on weekends, occasional cannabis or even occasional cocaine, leading to understand that that kind of behavior is “right” for socializing and sharing.
Moreover, given the historical moment, the vulnerability perceived by young people and few expectations for the future (such as the insecurity of finding a job) amplifies the need to try to distract from the reality and experiences that demonstrate, at the same time, their ability to survive. So the “consume”, Farsi, become mandatory for many young people in order to combat or modulate emotions, feelings of discomfort, embarrassment, boredom, dissatisfaction, emptiness, loneliness, inability. So we are seeing a greater spread of drug use and a debut in the world of addictions increasingly early age (mean age 15 years) with all the physical and psychological consequences that this entails.
It is well documented that the consumption of alcohol and cannabis (both combined, both divorced), especially in adolescence, causes damage – often irreversible – the brain structures, with consequences in the short and long term. Already after a few weeks of taking, cannabis causes in most subjects an emotional and affective flattening, the decrease of the will, resulting in loss of interest, enthusiasm and then the disappearance of the objectives. The association with alcohol aggravates this condition, the latter going to affect the tightness of mood, more so in those predisposed emotional instability, resulting in the commission of the use, increased frequency of hiring and dosages (phenomenon of psychological dependence). The consumption of alcohol at a young age is associated also with a greater risk of substance abuse, drugs and depression in adult life.
For this reason it is essential that the reference adults (parents, teachers, health professionals) while disoriented and frightened in front of the consumption of alcohol and substances that assist with the entry of the boys in the world of adolescence, do not underestimate the phenomenon by pointing “to the lesser evil” (the series “just not to exceed”). Rather it is necessary that they know the mechanism by which substances enter so sneaky and deceptive in the lives of young people, causing decay psychophysical (cognitive and social) of their children with serious repercussions for life; you must transfer the message that they know that the best way to be happy and increase the chances of achieving their goals, consists in refraining from consuming alcohol and substances.
* Antonio Floriani is medical psychotherapist, criminologist, Director of the Center LiberaMente Genoa. Expert in addictions and behaviors of abuse, worked for many years at various levels, in the field. For information or to schedule an appointment, contact the Center LiberaMente the addresses found by clicking here or write to firstname.lastname@example.org