In many homes today teens suffering from substance use and addiction go unnoticed, simply because parents are unaware of the signs. According to Help Guide, “experimenting with drugs doesn’t automatically lead to drug abuse; early use is a risk factor for developing a more serious drug abuse and addiction problem. Risk of drug abuse also increases greatly during times of transition, such as changing schools, moving, or divorce. The challenge for parents is to distinguish between normal, often volatile, ups and downs of the teen years and the red flags of substance use.” The warning signs of teen drug abuse include:

  • Having bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils; using eye drops to try to mask these signs
  • Skipping class; declining grades; suddenly getting into trouble at school
  • Missing money, valuables, or prescriptions
  • Acting uncharacteristically isolated, withdrawn, angry, or depressed
  • Dropping one group of friends for another; being secretive about the new peer group
  • Loss of interest in old hobbies; lying about new interests and activities
  • Demanding more privacy; locking doors; avoiding eye contact; sneaking around

When your teen has a drug problem there are a few things you should do and stay away from. Upon the discovery of your teen’s drug problem it’s important to remain calm when confronting your teen. You must be the supportive adult, and not argue or attempt to preach. The attempt to preach or argue could potentially backfire on you.

Five Steps Parents Can Take, Adapted From Help Guide:

  1. Lay down rules and consequences. The use of drugs should come with specific consequences, make sure your teen understands this. Make a set of rules that you can enforce, and when they don’t follow them carry out the punishment.
  2. Monitor your teen’s activity. Make sure you know your teen’s friends and hangouts. Explain to them that there will be a lack of privacy, considering their past actions of drug use.
  3. Encourage other interests and social activities. Healthy hobbies to exist, and exposing your teen to them could potentially benefit them. If sports is not an option, try afterschool programs or even church youth groups.
  4. Talk to your child about underlying issues. Find out what could be causing the drug use—hidden problems. Is there something causing them stress in their external or internal environment? Are they having trouble fitting in at school?
  5. Get help. The help is there; sometimes they don’t want it from the parent but another authority figure.

Substance Abuse Help For Your Teen at David Lawrence Center:

David Lawrence Center’s Children’s Substance Abuse Intervention Program addresses the substance use needs of youth ages 12-17 whose substance use has became problematic. This 8-week/16-session intervention group program includes random drug screens.

The program includes education on six content areas:

  1. Substance Abuse
  2. Goal Setting
  3. Spirituality
  4. Thoughts, Feeling, Behavior
  5. Relapse Prevention Plan
  6. Life Management

Adolescents must meet certain clinical criteria to be entered into this intervention program determined though a clinical assessment. For more information about the Substance Abuse Intervention Program at the David Lawrence Centers contact us at (239) 455.8500.

Oct 20, 2014 | Mental Health

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