Managing any size household has its challenges. However, when you’re parenting a teenager, the challenge seems to multiply by ten. It is during this time in their lives that they’re learning how to identify themselves and how to fit in socially with others. With this age comes a lot of pressure, experiments, and in some cases – disappointment. It is during this time that most parents will find that their children have begun using drugs and other substances. Despite any efforts you may have made to teach your children about drugs and keep them shielded from that lifestyle, there is still a chance that they may begin to experiment and abuse drugs. If not detected soon enough, it can easily become an addiction.
Isn’t It Just a Phase?
All too often, parents make mistakes when it comes to their teens and drug or alcohol use. “I used to do pot when I was little.” “It will pass.” “It’s just marijuana.” These are all excuses that parents make when it comes to their teens and drug abuse. Others fail to realize there is a problem to begin with because they don’t have the time to focus on their teen’s personal life. When it comes to your teen and substance abuse, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Sure you may think it’s nothing major, but as the strands of drugs continue to get stronger and the “positive” media portrayal of abuse and addictions increases, so does the likelihood of your teen’s “phase” going from experimental to addiction in an instant.
Common Warning Signs of Substance Abuse or Addiction
There are no exact set of symptoms or signs you should be looking for. Some teens can display multiple signs while others will display only one. If you suspect that your teen is using drugs or alcohol, it is best to confront them about the matter.
- Isolation from the family
- Disregarding household rules
- Withdrawal from responsibilities (chores)
- Sudden change in appetite
- Missing valuables or money
- Blatant lies about their whereabouts
- Traces of items such as cigarette papers, roach clips, plastic baggies, or drugs
- Lowered grades in school
- Notifications of tardiness or significant absences
- Decreased interest in learning
- Poor attitude towards teachers
- Changes in friends
- Mood swings
- Drastic changes in weight
- Increased feelings of depression
- Reckless behavior
- Increased need for money
Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs
Some of the above described warning signs of potential drug or alcohol abuse might seem like “typical teenage behavior” to many parents. After all, your teen tells lies, acts moody, gets a bit more defiant and even changes friends often…so how can you tell the difference? While it can be hard to tell, if your teen is abusing or addicted to substances of any kind, these changes will happen drastically without a moment’s notice. If you notice the above mentioned signs, at the very least, you should take this as a sign to be more involved in their personal life. Communicate more and pay attention to what they’re doing, and who they’re hanging around. If your teen’s behaviors don’t change, then it is best to seek assistance.
So what should you do if you determine that your teen might be abusing drugs or alcohol? The first thing you should do is get help for your teen. Parents can find a great deal of help by reaching out to:
- Guidance Counselors – your child’s guidance counselor can offer you support as it pertains to your teen. They can provide you with more insight to your teen’s behavior while in school, offer individual counseling sessions for your teen, or guide you to therapists and other facilities that can best help.
- Family Therapists – While they may not specialize in addictions, family therapists can also be a great place to start in getting help. They might be able to give you the basics on how to lovingly confront your teen and get them help.
- Young adult rehab centers – Similar to a drug rehab facility for adults, young adult rehabilitation facilities offer a variety of services for those looking to recover from various addictions. Such centers could give you insight on the various methods of help there are and also help you in choosing a program that will best suit your teen.
If you believe that your teen is suffering from substance abuse of any kind it is best to act sooner than later. It is important that you don’t take their abuse lightly or personally. There are several reasons why this could have started to begin with. The best thing you can do is get them help before the problem becomes more complex affecting their health.