Recent statistics suggest that one in 10 children between the ages of 12 and 17 use illicit drugs, bringing the issue drug abuse to the forefront of concerns for parents, educators, health care professionals and law enforcement. With a host of residential and non-residential programs like those offered by Elevations Health and similar facilities now offering treatment for teenage clients, it is clearer than ever that addiction is no longer a problem that is restricted to adulthood. Parenting a teen who is struggling with drug or alcohol issues can be challenging, but there are several ways to ensure that your son or daughter realizes that you intend to remain loving and supportive as he or she learns to manage life during and after addiction.
While some parents encourage experimentation as their teenagers mature, it may be a better idea to discourage drug or alcohol use at all; similarly, honesty about your own past is important. However, parents who experimented with marijuana or alcohol with few or no undesirable outcomes must share the truth of their pasts without glorifying the activities; cautious truthfulness will remind your child that you are just as imperfect as everyone else without inadvertently suggesting your substance use should be emulated.
The fact that teenagers will do anything to avoid acting like their parents is a common misconception; although your son or daughter may argue that this is untrue, research suggests that teens are looking to their parents to learn how to be adults, handle tough situations and make healthy lifestyle choices. Parents who want children to behave in a certain way must model that type of behavior every single day. For example, if you are trying to send the message that your teen should not smoke marijuana, avoid it yourself.
Substance abuse is a common problem among the mentally ill; self-medicating behaviors often manifest when psychological issues are left untreated. If depression, anxiety or even more serious mental health problems crop up, it is important to heed your child’s complaints and seek appropriate care. Occasionally, teen addiction occurs prior to the manifestation of the symptoms associated with certain psychological issues; in other words, it is possible for experimentation with drugs or alcohol to lead to addiction, and later to depression or anxiety. If you believe this may be the case with your teen, dual diagnosis treatment may be in order.
One common response to learning that your child struggling with addiction is blame. While some parents blame the teen or his or her friends, others turn toward one another to place blame; both are inappropriate. Once your son or daughter is in therapy or another form of treatment for addiction, it is time to put the blame aside and focus on the future. While it is important to understand what factors were involved in a teen’s use, abuse and eventual addiction to any given substance, pulling together as a family and focusing on the future is valuable; simply put, look toward the future instead of peering into the past.
Although it seems to go without saying, monitoring your child’s behavior may lead to earlier intervention in the event of drug use or abuse. While parents should respect their teen’s need for privacy to some extent, watching for changes in eating habits, sleeping patterns and social activities may provide insight to those who suspect that their child has been using drugs or alcohol. In fact, an upset in a youngster’s normal routine is one of the times that parents should pay the most attention; changing schools, breaking up with a significant other or even academic struggles are all forms of stress that may cause teens to begin experimenting with drugs or alcohol or even increase use among those who have already moved beyond the experimentation phase.
If you are a parent who suspects that your teen may be abusing substances, consider seeking assistance from a qualified therapist. Those who are concerned that their child has formed an addiction to illicit or prescription drugs or alcohol may find that reaching out to a rehabilitative program is an option for their family. From outpatient care that operates on a one-on-one basis to residential programs that place teens in a highly therapeutic environment with others experiencing the same problems, plenty of treatment options exist. If your family is facing addition in a teenager, remain open with your child, seek help early and encourage openness and honesty for every member of the household.