by Dominica Applegate
The teen years are certainly interesting years for both teens and parents, as both are gradually letting go in order for the teens to become responsible, mature adults. Sometimes though, the teen years can be quite tough for both teenagers and parents. After all, teens face all sorts of pressures during those years, all the while trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in. They are going through rapid changes physically, emotionally, and cognitively, which can bring on more stress and confusion than they’d like.
Many teens get through the adolescent years without too many issues arising, but some tend to experience issues that pose a problem for them and their families. Teens can certainly struggle with things like anxiety, depression, peer pressure, eating disorders, behavioral issues, substance abuse, and more. When the struggles get to be too much for parents to contend with, it’s important to know what to do to reach out for community help on the matter.
The prevalence of substance abuse
Substance abuse among teens has remained steady throughout the years. With peer pressure and much of mainstream media promoting alcohol, many teens aren’t too concerned about drinking and/or trying drugs. They feel like they can handle such and rarely think they could actually become addicts. But what could begin as an innocent binge drinking night at a party could eventually turn into full fledged addiction.
In addition, teens that are prescribed drugs for pain, anxiety, or depression could become addicted to prescription drugs as well. They start off innocent enough, but addictive drugs can rope in even the most mature, responsible kids at times.
Signs of alcohol or drug abuse
If you are concerned about your teen abusing alcohol or drugs, there are certain signs to look out for, including:
- Spending a lot more time with peers that are known for partying
- Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
- Not being able to get up for school or grades dropping
- Becoming distance. Won’t talk to you much anymore
- Personal hygiene begins to suffer
- Being secretive and not allowing anyone in his or her room
- Disruption in sleep habits
- Smelling like booze or drugs a lot
- Repeated lying
- Hanging out with known drug users
What you can do to get your teen into treatment
Most teens are not going to be thrilled about going to get treatment for substance abuse, so it’s important to think about this and do a bit of research before approaching your teen. Here are some things to consider before talking to your teen:
- When you go to your teen to talk, include him or her in the conversation. If you’re one sided and threatening when it comes to language, he is more likely to put a wall up or become very defensive. If you can, steer clear from using terms like “mental” and “therapy”, because many teens will view these terms quite negatively. The term “counseling” tends to go over better with teens.
- Be open and honest. When you approach your teen, be open and honest about your concerns, but do it in a safe and gentle way. If you come at them with negative energy brewing, they’ll be more likely to become rigid and angry and defensive.
- Ask your teen for help. Offer to your teen the opportunity to help in finding a suitable counselor or addictions specialist. This helps him or her to feel a part of the process. You can find a suitable addiction counselor at The American Society of Addiction Medicine
- Offer unconditional love. Do your best to offer your teen unconditional love, regardless of how the conversation about substance abuse goes. This goes a long way.
- Call a drug addiction specialist. Speaking to a drug addiction specialist can help when it comes to diagnosing the level of addiction your teen is dealing with. Then, you’ll be able to look for a drug rehab that is most appropriate for your teen. Once you find a treatment center that you feel is right for your teen, the staff there will walk you through the process of enrolling your son or daughter for treatment.
- Do your homework. It will take some time on your part to research the various drug rehabs locally or around the nation if you think a non-local rehab is necessary. Good news is that there are drug rehabs for teens in many cities across the United States. In addition, there may be an outpatient rehab locally that offers classes that your teen can attend instead of opting for a residential in-house treatment facility.
If you think your teen is struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, have a heart to heart with him or her as soon as possible. Be compassionate and non-judgmental and have some treatment options in mind to share. When you can give him various options, he may feel like he is more in control of the situation rather than if you were to simply dictate what will occur. Allow him to speak freely and really hear him out before you make a final decision regarding treatment.