The Relationship Between Homeschooling and Addiction

homeschooling and addictionAs every homeschooler knows, the first and foremost objection to homeschooling is that home educated children are not properly socialized. Many critics think that schools are the best and only place to learn social skills. But socialization in school is not as beneficial as many people claim it to be, when you consider the frequent reports of bullying, violence, drug abuse, and bad morals.

Since homeschooled children are not exposed to the negative socialization that occurs in schools, they tend to become better adjusted socially than students from conventional classrooms. Freedom from peer pressure encourages confidence and independent thinking, which in turn helps homeschoolers develop stronger self-esteem than their public-schooled counterparts. Moreover, homeschool parents generally seek to socialize their children toward responsibility, service, and adulthood which means they are better prepared with real life skills.

Homeschooling and Addiction

Most homeschooled children are closely monitored by at least one parent, so they are less inclined to develop harmful habits related to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and other risky behavior. In fact, research suggests that homeschooled students are more likely to strongly disagree with their peers’ use of drugs or alcohol.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) confirmed these facts on homeschooling and addiction:

  • Homeschool adolescents were more likely to disapprove of alcohol/marijuana use.
  • Homeschool adolescents were less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis.
  • Homeschool adolescents were less likely to have a diagnosed alcohol use disorder.
  • Homeschool adolescents had less access to illicit drugs than non-homeschool peers.

Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) further clarifies the relationship between homeschooling and addiction:

“[H]omeschooled adolescents are significantly less likely than non-homeschooled adolescents to report use of tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis, but no significant differences were observed with respect to crack/cocaine, inhalants, stimulants, or tranquilizers; however, homeschooled adolescents were significantly less likely to have used ecstasy and hallucinogens.”

Homeschoolers Are Not Immune

Temptation is a large part of many bad habits and destructive behaviors. If you aren’t exposed to people who use or sell drugs, you won’t have that temptation. Nevertheless, while homeschoolers as a whole are safer, certain individuals are not immune from addictions – especially if they are predisposed to addiction due to genetics, brain chemistry, family history or other vulnerabilities.

For example, impulsivity – a primary ADHD symptom – may lead to risky behavior and increased experimentation with addictive substances. People who suffer from mood and anxiety disorders are also more prone to become addicted. Feelings of loneliness and hopelessness can easily lead to depression and alcohol or drug abuse. If that’s the case, homeschooling may only delay or even exacerbate the problem, particularly when parents work and homeschooled teens are left unsupervised for long periods of time.

As you might expect, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are the most commonly abused substances by teens. This is primarily due to its legality throughout the country and easier access. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the frequency of both alcohol and cannabis use for teens increased. Although the greatest percentage of adolescents was engaging in solitary substance use (49.3%), many were using substances with peers via technology (31.6%) and, shockingly, even face to face (23.6%).

An individual whose parent or sibling suffers from addiction faces a higher risk of developing an addiction themselves. One member of Homeschool Recovery, a Reddit support group for people who have had negative experiences with homeschooling, wrote that “I personally do not drink, smoke, and I never want to touch cannabis.” However, her homeschooled siblings don’t have a problem partaking in drugs and alcohol (and maybe neither do her parents; she calls them hypocrites but doesn’t specify why). She said that they keep trying to persuade her to use these substances. This shows that homeschooling is not a cure-all.

Never let anyone pressure you to smoke, do drugs, or drink! But if you or someone you know is addicted, don’t be afraid to seek help. Delphi Behavioral Health Group is an organization dedicated to assisting individuals and families in overcoming addiction. You can find helpful tips on how to spot early warning signs of teen addiction at this link:

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