Teenage drug addiction is a serious problem, and it’s often challenging to deal with without professional help. However, parents can do things on their own that will help keep teens from starting down the wrong path. Addiction expert Dr. Jennifer Lundberg states, “The most important thing you can do as a parent is to talk openly and honestly with your children.” She adds that parents should also listen when kids want to talk about drugs or alcohol, even if they don’t seem receptive at first.
If you have reason to believe that your child might be abusing substances, here are twelve things you can do.
- Be Aware of Changes in Your Child’s Behavior and Attitudes
While everyone goes through different phases during adolescence, a sudden change in attitude or mood could indicate drug use. A once outgoing teen may begin to withdraw from friends and family members. Or an athlete who used to love sports may suddenly stop playing altogether. These changes could mean that something is seriously wrong. It’s essential to pay attention to what your child is saying and doing. However, it’s equally important not to jump to conclusions. Remember that substance abuse doesn’t always lead to harmful attitudes or behavioral changes.
- Discuss With Other Parents
As a parent, you know your child best. But you may not have all the information you need to make sound judgments about your child’s behavior. Talk to other parents and teachers about your concerns. Ask them how they would handle similar situations. This can give you some perspective and help you decide what steps to take next. You can also discuss treatment for young adults dealing with substance abuse. In many cases, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. So, you’ll want to explore all of your options before making any decisions.
- Research Treatment Options
There are several treatments available for people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Some require a stay in rehab, while others involve outpatient treatment. Most programs focus on individualized care and offer personalized plans. They also provide ongoing support to help patients stick with their recovery goals. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that research has shown that medications like naltrexone (Vivitrol) and disulfiram (Antabuse) can be effective in certain circumstances. These drugs block the effects of opioids, reducing cravings and helping addicts avoid relapse. However, they aren’t suitable for everyone.
- Speak With Your Child
- Get Help From Family Members
You may have family members who can help you address this issue. For example, you can involve grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or other close relatives. If possible, talk to them in private and explain what you suspect. This way, they won’t feel like they’re being blamed. You should also tell them why you think your child could be abusing drugs. Family members can give valuable insight into your child’s behavior. They may see things that you overlook. And if your child is willing to get help, they may be able to convince the addict to enter treatment.
- Educate Yourself About Substance Abuse
Learning as much as possible about substance abuse is critical. There are numerous resources online that can help you learn more about addiction. For example, you can read books or watch movies that shed light on drug abuse. Additionally, you can find out what signs to look for, where to get help, and how to approach the topic.
- Consider Detoxification
Some people are ready to give up drugs immediately. But others may need to undergo detoxification. This process involves cleansing the body of harmful chemicals. Detoxification isn’t a cure for addiction. However, it can provide a safe environment for people to stop using drugs. Without it, they may be tempted to start again. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, three main detoxification programs are available.
- Inpatient treatment requires people to live at the facility for some time. This type of program may be helpful for those who struggle with severe addictions or mental illnesses.
- Outpatient treatment offers patients the freedom to leave the facility during the day. However, they must return each evening.
- Detoxification centers provide treatment for people who are addicted to a specific substance. For instance, they may specialize in treating people addicted to heroin.
- Find Out More About Dual Diagnosis
Dual diagnosis refers to a combination of mental health disorders and substance abuse. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 80 percent of people with substance use disorder also have mental illnesses. While these conditions often occur together, they don’t necessarily cause one another. People may become addicted because they are self-medicating. Or they may develop a mental illness due to trauma or genetics.
- Contact a Rehabilitation Facility
There are plenty of rehabilitation facilities across the country. Some provide inpatient treatment, while others offer outpatient services. Before choosing a facility, you should consult with your child and family members. After all, they will be affected by the decision as well. Once you’ve decided which center to attend, you should complete an intake assessment. It helps professionals determine the most suitable treatment plan for your needs.
- Assess Your Financial Situation
It costs money to undergo substance abuse treatment. Fortunately, there are various ways to pay for treatment. You can apply for government funding. Insurance companies may cover part of the cost. You can also ask friends and family for assistance. And you should find out if your employer offers employee assistance programs. EAPs can reduce the amount of money you spend on treatment.
- Seek Professional Guidance
If you’re still unsure about handling your situation, you should speak with a medical professional. A therapist can help you understand your options. They can also refer your child to a rehabilitation facility specializing in dual diagnosis.
- Take Care of Yourself and Be Patient
Addiction can put stress on you and your loved ones. If your teenager is struggling with substance abuse, you should take care of yourself. This means getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, exercising, and practicing relaxation techniques. Doing so will make it easier for you to cope with the challenges ahead. People who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction require patience. It may take several tries before they can stay sober. As their parent, you should be supportive. You should also avoid pressuring them. Instead, please encourage them to talk openly about their feelings.
Dealing with a teen who abuses drugs can be challenging. However, you don’t have to tackle this problem alone. You can turn to a support group or therapy sessions. In addition, you can reach out to a loved one, such as a sibling or grandparent. Ultimately, you should talk to your child about their addiction. The sooner you do so, the better. It’s never too late to start addressing this issue.