We all want what’s best for our kids, and many parents go into parenting optimistic. It’s natural to believe that, with our guidance, our children will make good choices every step of the way. At the same time, most parents understand that the teen years can be challenging. But when you suspect your child might be experimenting with drug use, it can be difficult to know where to turn.
If this is the case for you, you’re far from alone. According to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration, teen drug use is on the rise and more than five million U.S. teenagers are currently struggling with substance abuse. Only 10% of those teens are in treatment. Your child doesn’t have to be in that untreated 90%. In fact, by getting help as soon as possible, your adolescent will have the best odds for successful recovery.
Part of successfully facing a teen substance abuse issue is to be honest with yourself and your child. A great initial step is to understand your options, have open conversations and develop a plan for your child’s wellness with the help of a trained professional. The reality is that there’s no exact science to the best ways to get help for your teen if you believe they’re using drugs. However, research shows that delaying drug use in adolescents, accessing quick interventions and getting professional help early on in addiction will add up to better results.
Why Is Delaying Drug Use Important?
In a perfect world, it’s best to help your teen delay any sort of drug use at all. While some adolescents never experiment, the truth is that most teens will wind up trying some type of substance before their adolescent years are over. With that said, what you do now to help your teen avoid early drug or alcohol use matters more than you may realize.
The importance of delaying drug use can’t be overstated in that teenagers who use drugs while their brains are still developing can actually suffer from delays in emotional and social development. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), teenagers who use drugs can suffer from poor academic performance, low self-esteem, trouble in relationships, risky behaviors, stunted growth and the development of adult health issues such as high blood pressure.
While helping your teen delay drug use is important, it’s not always possible. Some parents are shocked to learn their teen is experimenting with drugs or alcohol. If you find yourself in this position, remember that your ability to spot your teen’s drug use early on will also make a big difference if you’re willing to find a quick intervention.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some warning signs of teen drug use include:
- Sudden changes in friends, moods, appearance and daily routines
- Irresponsible behaviors or lack of judgment
- Withdrawal from the family unit
- Medication containers in spite of no prescription
What Interventions Are Out There to Help My Child?
While it can be scary to admit your teen or family needs help, it’s also one of the bravest things you can do for your child. By getting them quick interventions through a substance abuse professional, you’ll be giving them the best chance for success.
Interventions for teens with substance abuse issues are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, there are a variety of ways licensed mental health professionals can help you and your teen come up with a treatment plan that works best for your family.
The following are just a few examples of typical interventions for teen drug use:
- Residential treatment facilities for adolescents suffering from substance abuse and addiction issues
- Group and family therapy to tackle the systemic issues around teen substance abuse
- Individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other talk therapies for teens
- Partial hospitalization programs for teens dealing with other mental health issues
- A customized treatment plan that may or may not include medication with a variety of types of therapies
What If We Skip Early Drug Intervention?
It can be tempting to excuse signs of ongoing substance abuse by your child, especially if they’re telling you it was a one-time thing or they were just curious. When a teenager promises to stop a particular behavior, it’s natural for parents to want to believe them. It’s easy to tell yourself that things won’t escalate and become a habit. However, it’s usually a mistake to avoid early intervention for teenage drug use.
According to the Partnership to End Addiction, delaying early drug abuse intervention can lead to the following problems:
- Becoming your child’s enabler
- Hurting your own peace of mind and mental well-being
- Your child becoming more addicted to drugs or alcohol as you delay treatments that could help
- Your child becoming emotionally stunted at the age they began using
- Problems with the law, interpersonal relationships and mental illness
- Exposure of substances to other children in your home
Should We Address It on Our Own?
There are many reasons some parents opt to try to tackle a teen’s substance abuse problem at home without professional help. Whether it be stigma, fear, concerns about the health care system, legal worries or something else, being transparent about your hesitation is a good way to find a solid professional match for your child. It’s okay to contact a substance abuse professional and share your concerns before making a decision about whether to try to address your teen’s problem on your own or with the help of professionals. All calls and information you share will be confidential.
Successful Recovery Is Possible
Learning your child has a substance abuse issue can be heartbreaking. However, the sooner you intervene, the faster your child will be on the road to recovery. Enlisting trained mental health professionals and treatment teams who understand the ups and downs that come with loving a child struggling with drug use is a great first step in giving your family hope and the best possible outcomes.
If you suspect your child is struggling with substance use and you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to FHE Health for help. Contact FHE today by calling (833) 596-3502. Our experienced team of mental health and substance abuse specialists is ready to take your call any time of the day or night. Help your child begin their recovery journey today for a great chance at a bright future.