Guest blogger Rose Lockinger gets right to the heart of things with her take on what parents can do when they become concerned about a kid’s substance use. Thanks for sharing your insights. MWM
There are so many things we worry about as parents. We worry about them getting hurt or sick. We worry about accidents, we worry about their future, about their choices and we worry about them when they are sad and scared. As they get older we worry more, not less. They grow up a little and our hold on them has to loosen as they rely more on their friends for company and start to spread their wings.
One of the top concerns for parents of teens today is substance use and abuse. There are other things, of course. Bullying, gun violence, car accidents. But drugs and alcohol are a pervasive issue that teens face every single day, and often times, many of the other concerns parents have seems to go along with drug and alcohol use.
Do All Kids Experiment?
Not all do, but it’s common enough. While it doesn’t always result in negative consequences, it does warrant close scrutiny. Kids are impulsive and tend to think they are invincible. This creates problems when they get caught up in substance abuse. Most people who become addicted start using in their teens. The earlier drug or alcohol use starts, the greater the chances that the problem will turn into addiction.
What Are Signs That Your Child Has a Problem?
So as a parent what do you need to look for when you suspect that your child is using. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between just being a teenager and possible substance use.
Here’s a list of 6 main things to look for:
- Changes in physical appearance
- Extreme changes in emotions
- Changes in academic performance and attendance
- Always in search of money and not able to explain where it’s going
- Significant changes in mood and personality
- Missing prescription drugs and alcohol around the house
- A lack of concern in their appearance and personal care.
These are some common ones to start with, although you may run into others that are specific to your individual situation.
What Do You When It’s A Problem?
If you suspect that your teen is struggling with substance abuse, it’s important to address the matter right away.
Things can escalate quickly, and it’s important that you let your teen know you are aware of the behavior.
Because the situation is scary, it’s easy to come from a place of fear and even anger. It’s important to encourage honest and open communication.
One of your first steps may be to bring your child to your family doctor so that he or she can be screened for substance abuse disorder and any other issues that may be present.
Substance abuse often goes hand in hand with things like depression, anxiety or trauma, so it’s important that they be screened for these things as well.
It’s Never Too Early For Professional Help
If you’ve addressed the issue through communication, education, a professional evaluation and firm boundaries and consequences and the problem is persisting, it’s time to take the next step. It may be that your teen needs to get help via an adolescent rehab.
Teen rehab programs can provide a safe place to recover from substance abuse disorder. Getting away from using friends is helpful, and while they are in rehab they will learn more about addiction and the dangers of substance abuse, they will receive individual counseling to help identify and deal with any underlying issues and they will learn new coping skills that will help them deal with difficult emotions without turning to drugs or alcohol to cope. This is important, because the adolescent years are full of challenges and powerful feelings. Learning how to deal with them in a healthy way can help them make better decisions when things come up.
It may feel like you are jumping the gun a bit to put your teen in rehab, but the earlier they get help, the better. Teens and drugs and alcohol are a dangerous mix. Substance use disorder progresses and will only get worse if left unchecked.
This is never an easy situation. You’ll feel like it is an uphill battle, and your teen will fight you at every turn. It’s important that the family present a united front and a consistent message for your child so they know that everyone is on the same page.
Remember, your teen is frightened. For the person with substance abuse disorder, the idea of losing their drugs or alcohol is scary. They feel like they have to have it in order to live on a daily basis. Anyone who stands in their way is a threat and possibly an enemy, no matter how much they love them.
While some level of confrontation is necessary in order to bring the problem into the open and start the process of getting help, over-the-top, harsh interventions are not only ineffective but can do more damage.
Supporting Your Teen Through Recovery
If you have decided to take the next step in helping your child recover, the most important thing you can do is to continue loving and supporting them. Teens are often consumed with feelings of guilt and shame as a result of using drugs and alcohol as well as their behaviors. It may not look like it from the outside, but on the inside they are hurting. Reassuring them that you aren’t judging them and that you are only getting them the help that they need is crucial.
About Our Guest Blogger:
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.
Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.