What should you do if your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol? That is a question I wish I had asked myself a lot sooner.
I'm the mom of a teen drug addict. I had my suspicions before I found out the drug abuse was going on. I didn't act on them right away. What I didn't realize was that I was actually enabling my son to continue abusing drugs. Fortunately, we were able to get him into drug treatment eventually. However, the process involved so much heartache.
If you are suspecting that your adolescent is abusing drugs or abusing alcohol, the time to act is now. Don't look the other way, and don't enable the behavior. Knowing what to do just might save his or her life.
It's possible that your teenager has been acting strangely lately. The idea of drug abuse or alcohol abuse crossed your mind. However, you didn't really think too much of it. Now that you're considering it more, you're not even sure what to look for.
The following are some of the signs of drug abuse or alcohol abuse in adolescents:
You may also notice these behavioral signs:
If you noticed any of the above, there is a good chance your child is abusing drugs or alcohol.
Teenagers don't have access to a lot of substances for the purpose of abusing them. However, there are certain ones that are fairly easy for them to obtain. The types of drugs that teenagers will usually abuse include the following:
They may also abuse any drug that might be easily found in your medicine cabinet. For example, if you have a prescription for an opiate pain reliever like Vicodin, your teen may abuse it.
Alcohol and marijuana are typically easy to come by at parties or even at friends' houses. They can walk into any drug store and purchase cough medicine or other over the counter drugs.
For teens who want to use drugs or alcohol, obtaining them usually isn't a big problem.
Drug abuse or alcohol abuse in teens is one thing. It's something entirely different once the abuse becomes an addiction. For teenagers, addiction is the logical result the longer the substance abuse continues. As a parent, it's important for you to be aware of the different signs of addiction in adolescents.
Signs of addiction among teenagers include:
Have you noticed any of these with your teenager? If you have, it's likely that the abuse has progressed into a drug or alcohol addiction.
As a parent, you certainly want your teen to be happy. You also want your adolescent to be safe. Sometimes, it can be hard to differentiate between the two. Many parents inadvertently enable their adolescents' addictive behavior. Most of the time, they don't mean to. It just happens.
Some of the ways that parents can enable include:
Your teenager needs to know your stance on drug and alcohol abuse. Failing to make that known only sets him or her up to continue. As you know, that can be deadly.
You may have enabled your child in the past because you were scared. So many parents do. However, just because you've done it before, that doesn't mean it has to continue. You still have time to stop it, but you have to set clear boundaries. Let your teen know what behaviors you deem to be unacceptable. After you do, stick to what you say. It's so important for you to be consistent.
If you do have an addicted adolescent, this might be the first time you've faced this. It helps to have some tips so that you know what you should do. We'd like to offer you a few to assist you as you face this crisis with your teenager.
A lot of teens will start drinking or using drugs simply because they are bored. With nothing else to do, they often turn to substances because they offer something different and potentially exciting. Getting kids involved in extracurricular activities is one way to make sure they have something to do to fill their free time.
Healthy extracurricular activities are extremely beneficial for teenagers. Not only do they discourage drug and alcohol use, but they also:
As a parent, it is important for you to identify any possible extracurricular activities your teen might enjoy. There are a range of them to choose from, such as:
Most importantly, try to help your teen find activities that they truly enjoy. That will help them be open to the idea of adding more into their schedules and they will thrive in their new role.
As you may know, there comes a time in your teen’s life when they may not be as willing to talk to you. There may be certain aspects of their life that they choose to keep private, and that can break down your communication.
As a parent, it is so critical for you to keep those lines of communication open. But this does not come without its challenges. Remember, you are going against the very nature of adolescence. But it can be done by doing the following:
Plan Time to Talk With Your Teen One-on-One – Your teen is much more likely to open up and confide in you if they know they have a safe place to do so. You do not want to have an agenda for these talks with your child. The goal is to listen to them talk about anything that is on their minds, and it should be done when the two of you are alone. Let your teen know that if they want your advice, all they need to do is ask. But avoid trying to fix their problem. You should also plan to follow up with them a few days later. That lets them know you are thinking about them and truly interested in their life.
Accept Your Teen’s Communication Style – Your teen should feel free to communicate with you in the way that feels the best to them. If you criticize how they communicate, it may cause them to shut down, which is what you want to avoid. If there is something you do not understand, ask them for clarification. Eventually, you can guide them and help them learn how to communicate more effectively. But for now, it is enough to simply listen and help them feel listened to.
Pay Attention to How You React – If you are a parent who is quick to react negatively to your teen, this will only make communication harder for both of you. Once your teen feels comfortable talking with you openly, you are likely to hear everything from the mundane to the intense. You do not want your teen to assume that you will overreact if they confide in you. That could drive a wedge between you if the problem is not corrected.
Every parent wants to have a strong bond with their teenager. The teenage years are when they start communicating more like adults, and it is possible to form something similar to friendship with your child. Getting involved in your teen’s life can go a long way, and there are five steps you can begin to take to facilitate the bond you want.
Peer pressure is a very real problem that many teens face, and it is one of the main reasons they start drinking and using drugs. As your child’s parent, you can take a proactive approach in helping them to resist giving in to peer pressure. There are several ways to do this, such as:
A lot of parents falsely believe that if they let their teens and their teens’ friends drink at their home, it is safer for them. This way of thinking also promotes the idea that teens will develop a healthier attitude about alcohol in general. But this is not the case at all.
You may have always thought that if you are too strict about drinking at home, your teen will rebel when they leave home. Again, this is false information. As a parent, it is your job to not only model proper behaviors, but to set the right expectations for your child.
Kathleen Meyers, PhD and Senior Scientist states, “Adolescence is a time of growth and great potential but it is also a time of risk-taking and experimentation with drugs and alcohol, which can quickly get out of hand. At no other time in human development is the risk for developing a substance use disorder so high. As parents help their children navigate the often tricky waters of this developmental period, especially regarding substance use and its potentially devastating consequences, being armed with accurate information is their best line of defense. Our goal through this collaboration, and the development of this tool and others like it, is to provide critical, research-based information to parents about the realities, liabilities and potential consequences of adolescent substance use.”
Your teen is relying on you to know what to do in every area of their life. It is up to you to set the standard as far as what is acceptable in your home, and that standard should be no drugs or alcohol. Period.
If your teen has friends that you do not know, you should invest time and energy into getting to know them as much as possible. Whenever possible, invite them to use your home to get together. Welcome them when they arrive and learn their names. You can also spend time with the group and learn about their interests and hobbies.
Be involved with your kids’ friends as much as you can. If they plan on going to the mall, offer to give them a ride. This will help you learn how they talk with each other, their likes and dislikes and – really – what kind of influences they are.
You may also want to take this one step further by learning more about your teen’s friends’ parents too. Get to know them, if at all possible. You could invite them over for dinner and during your conversation, you can learn more about their values and share your own.
Last Call is a blog that offers information about both drug and alcohol addiction and abuse. It is full of informative information that parents will find to be very useful.
Cathy Taughinbaugh is an excellent blogger who understands teen addiction. Having dealt with it herself, she is there to offer hope and encouragement to parents. This blog is very valuable for any parent who is facing this problem currently.
Getting online support can be important for parents who may have trouble attending in person meetings. These websites offer help to parents who need it during this time.
It's so important for you to get as much information as you can about your child's addiction. Educating yourself is the key to bringing about the change you want to see. To do this, you must do your research on addiction. The more you learn, the more prepared you will be for what lies ahead.
You can also find a lot of great information on addiction at DrugAbuse.gov. This is a government site that is dedicated to substance abuse education. You'll find it to be very informative.
Therapy can work wonders in the life of a teen who is battling with substance abuse or mental health issues. Our Imagine Program was specifically designed to provide the necessary support to teens and their families as they go through the healing process.
When a teen is troubled because of addiction or mental health issues like depression, parents can feel lost. They want to help their child, but they may not know where to turn. We want to be a helpful resource that parents and teens can call upon to start recovering.
Our program is located in Nampa, Idaho, and we work with young people between the ages of 12 and 17. We offer many different types of therapy, based solely on what the child needs at that time. Our crisis intervention services are there to offer support to parents, and we regularly offer psychiatric evaluations to make sure our clients are improving.
Imagine by Northpoint is an outpatient day treatment program. Our clients live at home and participate in the program around six hours a day, five days per week. It is quite intensive, but our teens and their families receive exceptional support to help them reach their goals.
If you have an addicted teen in your home, please know that you can get help. The first thing you should do is try to have a conversation with your teen. If that doesn't seem to do any good, it's time to take the next step.
Consider utilizing intervention services. An intervention can be a very effective tool that you can use to your advantage. During an intervention, you will invite your child's friends and family members to participate. You'll meet with an interventionist who will explain the process to you in detail. You'll talk about the addiction, and you'll be advised on what to say during the meeting.
Please know that you may have to lay down some hard, fast rules. You may have to take away some things that your child loves. If your teen is older, you may even have to threaten to make him or her move out of your home. The advice you'll be given is only for your teenager's good. Please take the advice, and stay consistent. Doing so will only help your child see the need to get drug treatment or alcohol treatment.
At Northpoint Washington, we want to help you. We know how you feel, and we know you're desperate for a solution to this problem.