What is Parenting to Prevent Teenage Substance Abuse?
It is a horrifying reality that no parent wants to consider – your teenager is experimented with drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, your teen is not alone in that behavior.
Surveys indicate that, among American youth, 30% of 10th graders and 40% of 12th graders say they have used a drug at least once in the past year.
While marijuana is the most used drug among teens, other drugs are frequently used as well.
For example, in 2015, approximately 1.8 million people aged 12 or older reported using inhalants, such as paint, glue, and industrial chemicals, to get high.
Additionally, 2.2% of 12th graders have reported using cocaine, and cough syrup abuse is on the rise.
In 2018, 7.1 million Americans between the ages of 12–20 reported that they drank alcohol in the past month.
As discouraging as these statistics may be, there are strategies that parents can use to help prevent substance abuse – the two most important of which are: 1) an awareness of substance abuse signs, symptoms, and motivators and 2) and willingness to talk to your teens about drugs and alcohol.
To understand why teens use drugs, let us look at some of the most common motivations:
- Isolation– Isolation is a predictor of substance abuse behavior. When teens become separated from healthy social connections, possibly after moveing to a new town or are rejected by peers, they are more likely to turn to substances to cope.
- To fit in – Related to the above point, teens struggle when they do not have friends. With that in mind, teens are susceptible to falling in with “the wrong crowd” or doing drugs to impress new friends at school.
- To feel more at ease– Alcohol and drugs can help some teens feel “cool” or relaxed in the presence of others, helping to ease issues of social anxiety.
- Mental health issues– Depression, anxiety, insomnia, ADHD, self-esteem issues, and other mental wellness issues can trigger substance use as a coping strategy.
- To escape trauma– Youths whose parents are getting divorced, experiencing bullying at school, or who have witnessed violent acts are more likely to abuse substances.
While these reasons can help parents be mindful of circumstances in which substance use may arise, parents should be willing to talk to their teens about addiction, even if no potential concerns are evident.
Parents are encouraged to incorporate discussions about drugs and alcohol into their daily lives.
Avoid lectures and threats, but rather have a conversation with your child about the real dangers of drug and alcohol use, including legal issues, violence, high-risk sexual behavior, car accidents, and other concerns.
Make your disapproval of drugs and alcohol clear, but do not resort to scare tactics.
If your teenager believes they will be thrown out of their home or lose their relationship with you, they will be more likely to hide a substance issue.
What happens if you already suspect a substance abuse is present?
Effects of Parenting to Prevent Teenage Substance Abuse
Part of parenting to prevent teenage substance abuse is recognizing the signs of a drug or alcohol issue.
These signs can include:
- The smell of paint or chemicals on rags or clothes
- Appetite changes
- Mood swings
- Sudden changes in friends/relationships
- Decreased academic performance
- Bloodshot eyes
- Loss of memory
- Hyperactive behavior
- Loss of interest in activities
- Poor hygiene
Even if you notice a strange or sudden change in your teens life that is not on this list, you are justified in talking to your teen.
Dramatic changes in health, relationships, or self-expression could indicate another personal concern or source of trauma that could later trigger substance abuse.
Additionally, to prevent teenage substance abuse, it can help to know about some of the popular drug slang kids may use.
Terms to be aware of may include:
- China White
- Laughing Gas
While street slang for drugs is continually evolving, listen for any terms that you don’t understand – especially if they are overheard between teenagers.
Candid conversations with your teen, as well as internet resources, can help you determine if these terms are concerning.
Mental Illness and Parenting to Prevent Teenage Substance Abuse
While substance abuse is a serious issue at any age, abuse of drugs and alcohol can have particularly devastating consequences for youth.
There is a scientific connection between substance abuse and mental health issues.
And, though a mental health crisis, such as depression, can lead to drug use, it is also true that abusing drugs and alcohol can create mental health issues.
Depending on the drug, these mental health issues can take the form of anxiety, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, mood swings, insomnia, and other struggles, and the effects can last for months.
In the case of severe alcohol abuse, mental health issues have been known to last for years.
Furthermore, the teenage brain is still growing, and the brain’s reward centers are particularly sensitive. This can make teens especially susceptible to addiction, which is more likely to become a lifelong struggle.
Additionally, teenage drug use can result in lifelong impairments to the brain’s ability to experience happiness, perceive and remember information, and develop normal neural pathways.
If you believe your teen is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, there is no moment to lose in seeking a substance abuse recovery program.
Treatment and Parenting to Prevent Teenage Substance Abuse
Suppose your child is struggling with drug and alcohol use. In that case there are residential and outpatient treatment centers that can provide necessary support and evidence-based services to help your teen break free of addiction.
Equipped with medical staff, counselors, and therapeutic services, these centers can help treat addictions underlying reasons, such as depression, anxiety, grief, isolation, and low self-esteem.
Many of these centers also have medical providers on staff to offer medically assisted recovery, detoxification, and holistic treatment in one location.
There are also recovery centers that focus specifically on the needs of teens.
Being in an environment with counselors who understand the struggle of adolescence and the development of the teenage brain, can greatly improve the program’s tailoring and increase the likelihood of successful treatment.
At BriteLife Recovery, it is our goal to remove barriers to your child’s recovery.
We accept most PPO insurance and private forms of payment and will even communicate with your insurance provider on your behalf.
Just call BriteLife Recovery and let your recovery begin.
How to Get Help
Your teenager can beat addiction. And BriteLife Recovery can help.
BriteLife Recovery is a premier drug and alcohol treatment center.
We understand the pain and challenges of adolescence and the unique physical and psychological needs of youth.
And our team includes addiction specialists, medical professionals, certified addiction counselors, and licensed therapists who are ready to help your child recover.
Your teenager’s new beginning starts with BriteLife Recovery.