A Guide for Parents with Teens Suffering From Addiction

As a parent, it is your duty to try to make sure that your children are safe and free of illness. Unfortunately, addiction is one of the various illnesses that can escape a parent of a teenager. While suffering from substance addiction is hard on teens and children, it is also hard on parents of addicts. To help make the situation easier on them though, parents of addicts should make themselves knowledgeable about substance addiction so that they can recognize all of the signs. 

Addiction and drug use continue to be a problem in teens and young adults. While it may seem scary or daunting to face the problem, it is necessary. At The Owl’s Nest, we make sure that you and your family are not alone in your efforts to overcome substance addiction. We’re ready to help you and your children overcome addiction with care and accessibility. 

Addiction Treatment for teens

Why Teens Get Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

As with all cases of addiction, there is no one answer as to why a person may become addicted to drugs/alcohol at an early age. Several factors are taken into account, some of which we can’t control. Some of the factors to consider include:

  • Parent’s influence on teen
  • Social factors/influences
  • Home environment
  • Psychological factors
  • Genetic makeup

Due to a person’s genetics, some people are more vulnerable to addiction and addictive behaviors than others. While we have no control over this and other factors, we can still make changes and seek necessary help where available. Addiction is usually very complex and even teens can be susceptible to drug use under certain conditions. 

With this in mind, it’s important to tackle the issue of substance addiction amongst teens without pointing blame at a person or at other factors. There can be feelings of guilt or anger but it’s important to focus on the main issue at hand, getting professional help for your child and family. Parents of addicts can count on our team to provide quality treatment and guidance through this time. 

Drug Use in Teens Statistics 

Drug use among teens continues to be an issue in the U.S. and abroad. Research shows that at least 1 in 8 teens abused illicit substances in the last year. Additionally, 50% of teenagers have misused drugs at least once. These stats paint a picture that drug addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age or background. Other stats include:

  • 8.7% of 8th graders used an illicit drug in the past month
  • 8.3% or 2 million teens (ages 12 to 17) reported using a drug in the last month
  • Around 62% of teenagers in 12th grade have abused alcohol at some point
  • 11% of overdose deaths are between 15-24 years of age 

Whether it be through peer pressure, negative parental influence, genetics, or other factors – drug use can be a problem. Some of the most widely abused drugs among this group include: 

What is Drug Addiction and How do You Spot it in a Teen?

Drug addiction looks very different from case to case and person to person. Drug addiction is a disease (substance use disorder) that develops in the brain after a person abuses drugs for a period of time. When someone is addicted to drugs, that person is unable to control his or her drug use and, in turn, several negative consequences can occur. Drug addiction can end up affecting a person’s physical, mental, and social state. 

When a person is addicted to drugs, whether that person be a teen or adult, he or she grows dependent on drugs to function. When not using drugs/drinking alcohol, addicts may experience withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are often physical. Examples of common physical substance withdrawal symptoms include nausea, headaches, tremors, heart rate changes, etc. 

For teens, drug addiction can be especially harmful since they are still physically and socially developing. Drug addiction can end up opening the door for several risks for teens, such as:

  • Car accidents
  • Injury (falling, burns, drowning, etc.)
  • Unprotected sex
  • Physical assault/fights
  • Sexual assault
  • Suicide attempts or self-harm
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Alcohol poisoning 

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction in Teens

Parents of addicts should know the telling signs that indicate that their children may have a substance abuse problem. With teens and adults alike, there are certain changes in behavior and physical symptoms that often arise when they are chronically abusing drugs.

These signs include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Secretive or isolating behavior
  • Worsened hygiene
  • Poor school performance (grades)
  • Changes in personal appearance
  • Missing curfews or always out
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities they normally enjoy
  • Laughing without reason
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Smoke or alcohol smell on clothes or breathe

These signs can become apparent over time and signify a problem in your child. If you notice any of these changes or other strange behavior associated with drug use, it may be time to reach out for help. 

How to Talk to Your Child About Drug Use

While talking to your children about their drug use may seem hard or daunting, it is necessary. It’s normal to feel guilty, ashamed, disappointed, or even frustrated at the situation. However, it is important to keep a few things in mind when you decide to have a talk with them. 

Consider Word Choice and Avoid Judgment

When speaking to your children about their drug use habits, you should avoid accusations, judgment, or blame. This is especially true in the word choice that is used. Refrain from being judgemental or using words like “junkie” – this can end up causing arguments and push back from your son or daughter. It’s important to make sure that your children know you have their best intentions, regardless of how you may feel at the time. 

Consider Tone of Voice

It’s important to be conscious of the tone of voice at which you speak to your teen. While you may know your young adult children best, they know you as well. So, avoid sounding condescending, sarcastic, resentful, or judgemental. Remain calm and neutral so that your children feel comfortable opening up to you. While emotions may run high, be cautious of how you approach the situation when deciding to talk to your teen about the possible drug use problems. 

Find Common Ground

As parents of addicts, it’s key that you find common ground between you and your substance-addicted teens. Be patient while still leting your teen know that their drug use is affecting their grades and their lives and your life as well. 

Your children should understand that there are many negative consequences that come with abusing substances, some of which can have big effects on their future. Your teen’s ability to get a good job, maintain good physical health, and maintain financial stability are all in jeopardy if he or she continues to abuse drugs. 

teen Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

Why is it Important to Step in on a Teen’s Drug Use?

Apart from the negative consequences that come with drug addiction, parents of addicts need to intervene for the effects that drug use will have on their teens’ future development. While society condemns abusing drugs, it is also seen as the norm among teenagers/young adults. 

A person’s behavior during his or her teenage years affect how that person thinks and grows going forward. Parents of addicts should intervene to stop further consequences.

If parents of addicts don’t interfere, they can end up enabling their children’s further drug use.  Teens and children are susceptible to behaviors and changes – which makes drug addiction that much more costly in the long run. 

The neurological effects of abusing drugs as a teenager can include: 

  • Poor cognitive processing speeds
  • Poor performance in abstract reasoning skills
  • Altered decision-making skills
  • Trouble retaining information 

This also doesn’t include the mental conditions that can arise from continued use of drugs at an early age such as – depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other conditions. Such mental illnesses can set up a teen/child for failure.

Getting Addiction Treatment for Your Child

Parents of addicts may be concerned and thus, be wondering what to do to help their addicted teens. If your child has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it may be time to seek professional help. At The Owl’s Nest, we offer comprehensive and personalized treatment for you and your children. Our addiction treatment programs provide a safe and open space to heal and achieve recovery. 

Since teens are in a vulnerable and developing stage in their lives, it’s important to act fast when it comes to giving them the addiction treatment that they need, as doing so will help your teen avoid further damage and problems down the road. 

Our team here at The Owl’s Nest offers several personalized addiction treatment programs to ensure that your teen can achieve effective recovery. Don’t wait, contact us today and see how we can help you or your child overcome addiction and live a better life.