Teen smoking not about the tobacco
Smoking is not about tobacco consumption; it is about a brain that cannot self-regulate and deal with feelings and instead seeks to find the quick fix – external moderator – only to get addicted to a “fix” that compounds the problem. Smoking is an outward symptom of an internal problem.A reasonable person might ask – what short-term gains could prompt a person to take the social and physical risks? The short answer is that the smoker’s internal imperatives (strong reasons for smoking) have overridden their reasoning. These internal imperatives consciously override the vast wealth of information about the effects of smoking. As a result, the smoker’s internal imperatives are at the foundation of the real problem.Three internal imperatives immediately come to mind. These are: self-destructive tendencies, the need to rebel, and the need for external moderators to regulate feelings, to help them get focused or calm down. All three of these indicate the brain’s inability to interpret and process information and self-regulate in an appropriate manner. The first internal imperative, self-destructive tendencies, is associated with low self-esteem, and internalized anger seems to be the most obvious cause. Smoking is nothing short of incremental suicide, because in spite of the perils associated with smoking (or tobacco use in any form), smokers addictively continue. Some might say that smokers don’t care about what they do to themselves and others; I doubt this is totally true. Instead, I suggest there may be a self-destructive imperative associated with lack of positive self-esteem and internalized anger. It produces a “disregulation” in the brain that can easily override a youth’s reasoning capacity. Rebellion is not associated with low self-esteem, but with externalized anger issues. Smoking fits into adolescent image development and need for an expression of rebellion. In the ’50s, the rebellious icon was cigarette-touting James Dean, “a rebel without a cause.” Today it’s punk, gothic, and then some; smoking is a part of the scene. Smoking is not the problem; it is an expression of a problem.The third internal imperative is the brain’s need to find external moderators to help self-regulate strong emotions. This imperative encompasses the first two imperatives. It is the brain’s response to a need for assistance in order to self-regulate. Smokers note that they smoke to gain focus or to calm down; smoking becomes an external moderator to meet the individual’s emotional or cognitive needs. There is help for youths who need assistance overcoming the imperatives associated with smoking. The youth and family specialists at YouthZone understand the problems associated with smoking and the lack of self-regulation. If your child is smoking, or you suspect that your child is smoking, it is a signal that the child needs some help learning how to self-regulate. Contact YouthZone: Glenwood Springs, 945-9300, Rifle, 625-3141, or Basalt, 927-1545.There is help for youths who need assistance overcoming the imperatives associated with smoking. The youth and family specialists at YouthZone understand the problems associated with smoking and the lack of self-regulation. If your child is smoking, or you suspect that your child is smoking, it is a signal that the child needs some help learning how to self-regulate. Contact YouthZone: Glenwood Springs, 945-9300, Rifle, 625-3141, or Basalt, 927-1545.
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