Alcohol & Substance Abuse in Adolescents

Dealing with adolescent drug abuse and addiction is something that no parent ever wants to have face. However, as parents, it is important to recognize the signs that may indicate your teen may be abusing drugs or alcohol. Different warning signs will depend upon the drug of abuse, but some of the more common signs include:

  • Red eyes
  • Health complaints such as always being overly tired
  • Less interest in school, drop in grades, and skipping classes
  • New friends who have little interest in family or school activities
  • Mood changes or emotional instability
  • Hostile, angry, uncommunicative
  • Secretive
  • Poor hygiene
  • Messy, careless appearance
  • Frequently breaks curfew
  • Locked bedroom door
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Depression

If you have discovered that your child is indeed drinking or doing drugs, it’s time to act. Take a deep breath, make a plan, and gather information before you act. Once you have taken the time to accept that your child needs help, have discussed the issue with your spouse/partner, and are ready to begin here are some tips for dealing with the situation:

  • Talk about it – when you talk to your teen make sure you’re having a conversation – not a confrontation
  • Show concern
  • Keep calm
  • Be direct, but watch your tone of voice
  • Try not to be defensive
  • Talk about your own memories
  • Show your love
  • Listen
  • Give positive feedback where you can
  • Set limits
  • Lay down the rules so your teen knows what you expect of them
  • Set firm consequences for broken rules
  • Get outside help
  • Get help for yourself and other family members as this is a difficult time for everyone
  • Most importantly, make sure that you are there to support your child throughout the whole process. Successful recovery can only be achieved if the teen has a support system in place to help them through this difficult period.

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