Over the last several decades more and more adolescents are experimenting with drugs. Teen drug addiction affects millions of families across the world. Many teenagers start experimenting with drugs and alcohol before they turn 13.
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Drug Addiction
Common signs that your son or daughter might be abusing drugs may include:
- Grades suddenly drop
- Teen is isolating themselves and/or avoids spending time at the house
- Changes in mood/personality
- Constantly asking for money
- Stealing from the house and family
One should not assume that a child has a substance abuse problem based on these indicators alone, as the pressures of ‘growing-up’ can have similar symptoms. Clear communication with your teen should be maintained, along with close observation. It is necessary to educate your teen about the dangers of substance abuse. Dedicate some time to researching the topic yourself, and share your discoveries.
The Effects of Addiction on the Family
Generally caused by the symptoms listed previously, the effects of a teen developing a substance abuse problem can be devastating to a family. Parents must maintain civility and unity in the battle against this disease, or risk the estrangement of each other and/or other family members (not just the teen with the substance abuse problem). Boundaries must be set and maintained, as much for the protection of the teen as for the rest of the family. Though boundaries must be set, many believe it is better to practice tolerance and reason with your teen than simply punish him or her for unwanted behavior.
If boundaries are not set clearly, the confusion created can cause many issues to arise between you and you’re kids. If you are able to set your boundaries and maintain them, you will avert the majority of arguments and confrontation.
There are many courses of action that parents can take when attempting to help a teen overcome a problem with substance abuse or addiction. It is important that parents do not ‘enable’ a teen to continue self destructive behavior; to enable a substance abuser is to provide them with the resources they need to continue their use. For example, if you have reason to believe your teen will spend any money they acquire on drugs/alcohol, do not give them cash. Instead, buy the goods which they must have for them and make any possible attempt to limit their resources.
If your attempts to educate and reason with your son or daughter do not seem to have a positive effect, it may be time to consider professional treatment. Many teens will not willingly consider attending an inpatient facility, it will likely be necessary to set up an ‘intervention‘ with your teen. A professional interventionist will be able to discern the necessary course of action based upon the individual case. If your teen has a substance abuse problem, do not let it continue by enabling them or turning a blind eye. Not only will allowing the behavior to continue seriously harm your teen, it will cause many problems for the entire family.