3 Signs Your Child May be Struggling with Addiction

Adults aren’t the only ones who suffer from substance addiction; many children suffer as well. Are you a parent concerned about your child’s sudden change in behavior? Our guest blogger below offers insight on ways to communicate, help and signs to watch out for with your child.

Drug addiction is a serious problem in the United States. It’s not limited to adults; many children have a substance addiction. Sometimes, the signs that a child is struggling with substance abuse mimic the symptoms of mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety, or even the signs of puberty. It can be easy to overlook the symptoms, because it’s very difficult to admit that your child may have a problem. The best step you can take is to get professional help if you notice changes in your child’s behavior for which there isn’t another reason.

Watch for these signs:

  1. Problems in school, missing classes, a decline in academic performance or a loss of interest in school
  2. Trouble with the law
  3. Changes in relationships with friends and family, acting withdrawn or hostile

Your child may also have changes in grooming habits, eating and sleeping. When the patterns change for more than a week, you may need to look at the underlying causes. Grief can mimic the signs of substance abuse. You don’t want to rush to judgment, but you do need to take control of the situation.

3 Ways You Can Help

When someone is struggling with addiction, he or she may become deceitful and react negatively to any suggestions of help. You have to be assertive, but not confrontational. What can parents do?

  1.  Strengthen your relationship with your child. Ask open-ended questions about what’s going on in your child’s life. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a yes or no answer. You want more communication with your child. Ask questions that let him or her express their concerns and struggles. Focus on what’s good and be understanding.
  2. Create and reinforce guidelines. Setting boundaries with a teenager is difficult when there is no addiction problem, but when you have the added pressure of substance abuse, you will have to be strong. Work with your child to create consistent rules that are enforceable. If a certain behavior occurs, then this will be the response. You may not be able to cover every contingency, but you can certainly establish rules and consequences for the most common issues. This lowers the emotionally-fueled reaction that isn’t productive.
  3. Encourage positive behaviors. You will need to help your child learn new healthy coping skills and build better relationships through the healing process. You have to be a cheerleader that encourages your child to change. You cannot solve each of the problems created by drug abuse, but you can focus on positive messages.

You can do it.
You can be successful.
You are important in my life.
What can I do to help?

Many substance abusing teens will be reluctant to enter treatment unless compelled by the court system or their family. An intervention is not always the best method to get a child struggling with substance abuse into a program. Instead, you should encourage your child to talk to a professional about the problem to address their concerns and to find the best solution. Take care of yourself as you care your child’s needs. You don’t need to deal with burnout, stress and depression when your child needs you at your best.

Author Byline

Daniel Gellman

Dan Gellman is the Director for High Focus Centers, a provider of outpatient substance abuse and psychiatric treatment programs in New Jersey.









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.
©2017 Our Young Addicts All Rights Reserved.


The Terrific, Not Terrible, Twos!

The blog is two years old today! Thanks for supporting us and being part of the #OYACommunity
The blog is two years old today! Thanks for supporting us and being part of the #OYACommunity

Two years ago today, I stopped talking about a blog, logged on to WordPress.com and made it happen.

For several years, I had been writing some magazine articles and a biweekly newspaper column about parenting our son through his addiction to drugs. It seemed there was a bigger audience, however, so about six months prior to the blog, I began tweeting as @OurYoungAddicts.

There was so much more to share than was possible within 140 characters, and I hoped some of the online audience would follow to the blog. The first posts were primitive at best in terms of layout – just type with a colored background. It was a start and it felt good. From that point forward, the words kept flowing as did the following.

More recently, Our Young Addicts created a logo and focused the content to focus on sharing our experiences, offering resources and instilling hope while continuing to foster a community of parents and professionals who care and are concerned about the young addicts in their lives – no matter where the kid may be in terms of addiction and recovery.

Twitter remains quite active with multiple posts each day and significant engagement through Tweet chats including #AddictionChat on Wednesday evenings at 8 p.m. CT and #CADAChat on Thursday afternoons at 3 p.m. CT. We also post at least once a week on Facebook.

Our deepest content, however, appears on the website and through the blog. Here, we have created and curated resources – with more to come – and Midwestern Mama (that’s me) continues to provide updates on her family.

Our guest blog posts now run on Wednesdays. These alternate from a parent’s perspective, to insights from a person in recovery who actively used as a young adult (as early as tweens through 20s), and to the expertise of an addiction and recovery professional.

There’s more to come as Our Young Addicts grows. Without a doubt, we’re celebrating the terrific twos and are celebrating your support and participation!

Midwestern Mama

©2015 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved