Substance abuse impacts teens psychologically, emotionally, and physically. The teenage years are already challenging due to continued brain growth and development, hormonal imbalances, and peer pressure. If a child develops an addiction, they often need a support system to get them through it. Parents, friends, family members, teachers, or other mentors can prove to be an essential part of the recovery process.
Why Do Teens Use Drugs or Alcohol?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that, in 2020, 46.6% of 12th graders surveyed had used illicit drugs at some point in their life. Of those, 22.2% had done so in the last month. Even though drug experimentation is common, it’s unsafe and may lead to the onset of addiction and dependence. As a parent, don’t overlook the importance of educating your child on the reasons not to use.
Some of the most common reasons teens use drugs or alcohol include:
- Peer pressure to try substances
- Mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety
- Changes after puberty, including biological and behavioral
- Pressures from parents, society as a whole, or teachers or coaches at school
- Struggles at home, such as a death in the family or parents who are fighting
- Poor supervision by parents
- Family history of dependency, especially in the home
- Exposure to some type of traumatic event
Recognize that addiction can form in your child even if you believe they are happy and healthy. What should you do if you suspect your teen is using?
Parents: How to Provide Your Teen with Support Through Addiction Treatment
Addiction is a disease. As a result, it requires the help that comes from professional treatment. For parents, it’s hard to make that decision. For teens, it’s even more challenging to accept that treatment might be necessary. Here are some steps to consider.
Stage an intervention
Often, one of the most important signs of support is an intervention. An intervention for your teen brings their closest loved ones together, often accompanied by an intervention specialist, to talk about what they see going on. It includes presenting facts about what they observe and experience when the teen is using substances. An intervention does not always lead to treatment, but it shows your teen how much you care and want to support them through this battle.
Set clear boundaries
Boundaries may include no longer providing excuses for their poor behavior or decisions. Also boundaries hold your teen accountable for what they fail to do because of their continued drug or alcohol use. Boundaries make clear what you will and won’t do to help them.
- You’ll help them get to and from treatment.
- You will listen and support them through the ups and downs of addiction recovery.
- You won’t lie for them or hide what’s happening.
- You’ll give them ample resources to support their recovery as much as you can.
- You won’t condone their use of substances in your home or around you.
- You will set consequences for using, such as no longer giving them financial help, taking away their car, or perhaps even requiring them to enter a full-scale treatment program.
Get involved in the treatment process
Drug and alcohol addiction often is a family disease. Even if your teen isn’t using in front of you, their use is impacting you. For that reason alone, you may benefit from family therapy as well.
Your teen will, too. They need to have access to you during treatment to work through challenges they face. Sometimes, those challenges relate to relationships, misunderstandings, or hurtful words. Other times, there are real traumatic events in their past that need to be overcome. Parent involvement is nearly always beneficial. Your child’s therapist will provide more insight into what you can do.
Recognize the value of professional help
You can’t do it alone. No matter how well you know your child or think you can control the situation, it’s unlikely you can. Recognizing this, and turning drug and alcohol treatment over to a professional, enables your child to see the importance of proper care.
- Discuss with the therapist what is happening with your child. Create a plan to help them get the care they need.
- Show up for family therapy sessions.
- Stick to your word. Whatever you promise to do, do it.
- Be there to encourage your child just as you would if they were ill. Addiction is a disease.