If you are concerned that your teenager is abusing alcohol or drugs, it is never too early to act to get him or her help for teen addiction. While teenagers might not admit to a problem, and most certainly may not want your help, your responsibility as a parent is to do whatever you can to help your child.
Recognizing the Signs
The first step is to recognize the warning signs and symptoms that indicate your teenager is using drugs or alcohol. With the staggering statistics on teen alcohol usage, it would be naive to think that your teenager has not at least tried alcohol. Unfortunately, it has also been shown that teens that abuse alcohol are more likely to also experiment with drugs.
Educate yourself on the various signs of substance abuse and teen addiction, and then pay attention to your child. As many of these signs take some time to manifest themselves, you will need to be tuned in to what is going on with your teenager and when changes in appearance or behavior occur.
It is also important to remember that teens are going through lots of changes physically and emotionally, so some of what you observe could actually be normal adolescent behavior. For this reason, it is important to know your teen, observe your teen, and keep the lines of communication open.
Talk to Your Teen
If you see signs that indicate drug or alcohol use, it is important to talk to your teen. This should be done as calmly as possible in a non-threatening manner. You do not want to be aggressive in your approach, as this will likely make your child shut down and not talk to you. It is very important that you also listen, and allow your teen to talk to you.
Talk to a Professional
Your family doctor can be a great resource if you see signs of drug abuse in your teenager. Since many of these signs are similar to symptoms of other conditions, such a depression or anxiety disorders, your doctor can help by examining your teen. This can help eliminate any medical conditions as the explanation for the symptoms. In addition, your teenager might be more open and willing to talk with the doctor than with his or her parents about any drug or alcohol use.
You might also choose to take advantage of a substance abuse counselor or mental health professional that has experience in dealing with drug addiction issues. It is important to find a professional who has worked with young people and knows how to relate to people in this age group. Treating teen addiction is different than treating adults, making it all that much more important to find trained professionals with those skills.
Explore Other Resources
There are many resources available to guide a parent through the minefield that is teen drug addiction. There is much that can be learned by doing research on the Internet. Be sure to be careful of the sites that you visit, taking care to utilize the information from reputable websites. There is a wealth of information on the Internet, but some of it can be suspect, depending on the source.
There are also several organizations that specialize in drug and alcohol abuse treatment, information, and support. This includes, but is not limited to:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration: (800) 662-4357
- National Alcohol and Substance Abuse Information Center: (800) 784-6776 or www.addictioncareoptions.com
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: (800) NCA-CALL
- Narcotics Anonymous: (818) 773-9999 or www.NA.org
- National Clearinghouse for Alcoholism and Drug Information: (800) 729-6686
If you take advantage of all resources available to you, and most importantly keep the lines of communication open between you and your teen, you will be able to find the help that your teen needs to break the addiction to drugs or alcohol.