As a parent, teen addiction and substance abuse is something that you can't help but be concerned about. Maybe you've been noticing some strange behaviors from your teenager, and you can't stop yourself from wondering if he or she has been using drugs or alcohol.
That can be such a scary place to be, and sometimes even when you do your best to set a good example, have all the right conversations with your child, and keep a close eye on the friends that your teen has, he or she can still become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Teen substance abuse and addiction is a growing problem in the United States. It seems to have gotten much worse over the last several years. The statistical data tells us that more teenagers have addictions, and fewer teenagers feel that there's something wrong with using substances now than ever before.
If you are the parent of a teenager, it's important for you to know how susceptible your child is to substance abuse and addiction. Likewise, it's also important for you to know what steps you should take if your son or daughter ever does form an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
We want you to know that we understand where you're coming from. Many of the staff members at our facility are parents ourselves, and we know the issues you face when you're concerned that someone you love so much might have an addiction. Getting the right information is critical, and it will help you incredibly as you venture forth and weather this storm alongside your teenager.
There are more teenagers who die because of prescription drug abuse than from cocaine and heroin combined. 60% of high school seniors don't feel that marijuana is harmful at all, even though the active ingredient in marijuana (THC) is as much as 5 times stronger than it was 20 years ago.
More than 30% of teenagers who live in states that have medical marijuana laws obtain their drugs from other people's prescriptions. Adderall (which is prescribed to treat ADHD) use among high school seniors has increased substantially. In 2009, 5.4% of seniors used Adderall, and today, 7.5% of them do.
54% of high school seniors do not feel that regular steroid use is harmful at all. 5% of high school seniors smoke pot on a daily basis.
By the time they reach the 8thgrade, 28% of students have consumed alcohol, and 16.5% of them have smoked marijuana. In 2013, more seniors had regularly used marijuana than cigarettes. Close to 23% of them had smoked pot at some point during the last month.
60% of teenagers who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from friends or family for free Less than 40% of seniors believe that regular use of marijuana is harmful.
50% of seniors don't believe it is harmful to try cocaine or crack once or twice. 40% of them don't believe that it is harmful to try heroin once or twice.
Teenage alcohol and drug use can have a profound effect on these young people's lives. In fact, teens that began drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to be alcoholics by the time they are adults. Teens who drink alcohol are also three times more likely to harm themselves through cutting, or attempt suicide than those who don't.
When you consider the fact that alcohol is among the top three causes of death for individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, and when you also consider that the number of teens who don't believe drugs are truly harmful has gone up considerably, it's very clear that the problem of addiction among teenagers has become quite the epidemic in the United States.
There is a fine line between abuse and addiction in teenagers, and the same is true for adults who use drugs or alcohol. In general, substance abuse will precede addiction, although this isn't always the case with every type of drug. It is possible for people to become addicted to a drug the first time they use it. For example, if a teenager were to use cocaine or heroin, these are drugs that some experts believe can cause an instant addiction.
Still, it's important to understand what the difference is between abuse and addiction, and this will help you understand the stage that your son or daughter may be in right now. When someone is abusing drugs or alcohol, they are basically in an experimental phase. The individual may use the substances periodically, but does not feel compelled to use them physically or psychologically. This is a stage that is known as substance abuse.
It is important to remember that substance addiction can occur at any time, and without warning if the abuse is permitted to continue, even on a semi-regular basis. This happens because of changes that are occurring in the brain. When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, that individual will experience withdrawal symptoms when he or she is not able to use, and there will be various other signs of addiction present that are clear indicators that the substance use has moved past the abuse stage.
Statistics from NIH tell us that half of all new substance users are under the age of 18. For these individuals, experimentation plays a major role in their substance abuse. The question is, why are they tempted to experiment with substances in the first place?
There are a number of reasons, and these include:
Of course, there are additional reasons why some teens are much more susceptible to abusing drugs or alcohol than others, and some of these are beyond their control. If your family has a history of addiction it is a known fact that your son or daughter is much more likely to use substances than someone without a family history of addiction. Also, relationships play an intricate role in determining whether or not a teenager will choose to experiment with drugs or alcohol. If someone in your family, or if a close friend uses, chances are pretty good that your teen will as well.
Teenagers who have been diagnosed with mental health conditions are also much more likely to use substances as well, and they do this as a way to cope and self-medicate their symptoms. In the same way, when a teenager suffers from poor self-esteem, poor social skills or has other similar types of insecurities, this can lead them to self-medicate with substances as well.
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Once drugs or alcohol enter the brain, that processing is interrupted. This can eventually cause significant and even drastic changes. Some of these changes may not be reversible. As substances continue to be used, this can lead to addiction, and for many teens, it does. The result is being unable to stop using, even when they have a desire to. Teens that suffer from addiction have this experience. In fact, even when they are staring at numerous negative consequences, they will continue to use.
The problem is that the teenage brain is much more vulnerable to addiction than an adult’s brain. Researchers have even pointed out the fact that addiction happens quicker with teens. Many experts have even gone so far to say that if you’re going to get addicted, it happens in adolescence.
There is a common misconception that teen drug experimentation is completely harmless. Some parents even believe this to be true. They look at it as a phase that will pass at some point once their teenager gets bored. Also, some drugs – such as alcohol and marijuana – are viewed as being benign. They’re thought of as harmless, which is certainly not the case at all. Even the so-called “softer” drugs can have devastating consequences. They will lead to an increased risk in:
They can even lead to cancer, stroke and heart disease, and teenagers are not immune to these risks.
Also, drug experimentation among youth is not the norm. The teens who do experiment are the exception. Parents must be vigilant to know the signs of addiction and substance abuse. It’s so easy to overlook a potential problem.
Teen alcohol use has been a serious problem in the United States for decades. This drug is undoubtedly the most highly used substance among adolescents. Drinking among young people poses so many safety and health risks.
First and foremost is the threat of underage drinking. Young people often fail to recognize the hazard they pose to others when they drink and drive. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
Stimulant drugs are very popular among young people. They work by enhancing their alertness and helping them feel more energetic. Some of the more popular stimulants teens often have access to include ADHD medications. Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are very commonly used among teenagers.
Additionally, teens may turn to crack, cocaine or methamphetamine to get high. Regardless of whether the drug is legal or illegal, they are all dangerous. Eventually, continuing to use them may become fatal. In 2014, 1.6 million people ages 12 or older reported the nonmedical use of stimulant drugs, according to SAMHSA. This percentage was higher than for most years between 2005 and 2012.
Far too many teenagers are still viewing marijuana as being non-threatening. As far as adolescents and marijuana go, if they use it early in their lives, it can lead to serious problems.
For teenagers, so many developmental changes are taking place during these important years. Their ability to think is expanding, and the influence of their friends reaches an all-time high. The use of marijuana among young people has been linked to many social and developmental issues. In fact, in 2012, one study found that pot use was linked to neuropsychological decline. This included memory and cognitive problems along with a lower IQ level.
It should be noted that when these individuals stopped using marijuana, they didn't improve fully. Many of the consequences of pot use will continue to persist throughout one's lifetime.
According to Time, the use of illicit drugs among teenagers has decreased over the years. However, this is not the case for the use of opioid pain relievers. The abuse of prescription painkillers continues to be a growing problem. Close to 5% of people over the age of 12 is currently misusing at least one of these drugs. They also report that only 39% ever receive treatment for an addiction.
Unfortunately, far too many doctors will overprescribe pain medications, even to teenagers. Many teens can easily get their hands on these drugs from friends or family. One of the biggest concerns is the fact that eventually, many who abuse pills will turn to heroin instead.
Hallucinogenic drugs like Ecstasy and LSD are often popular among teenagers. They're relatively easy to obtain on the street, and the high is unlike anything else. The drugs have the ability to place individuals in a psychedelic trance. This means they will enter into what seems to be a different world, mentally.
Taking too much can cause serious problems. The "trips" that hallucinogens lead to can be either good or bad. Both can cause someone to take risks and behave in ways they wouldn't otherwise. For instance, one teen who had used LSD reportedly fell off his roof after a bad trip. He became paranoid and fearful, and ended up bleeding and in the hospital.
The moral of the story is that hallucinogens are bad news. Kids often believe that they can manage them, but they eventually learn that they can't.
Most teens that abuse drugs will abuse the ones that are the most accessible to them. This means that if one substance isn't available they will eagerly seek out another one to take its place. Gasoline and DXM cough syrup can be used as drugs when teens are not able to find anything else.
It's difficult to know how to identify drug or alcohol addiction in your child when you're not really all that sure what you should be looking for. There are a lot of signs that indicate that an addiction or substance abuse might be present, but unfortunately, a lot of the time, these signs are overlooked or chalked up to typical teenage behavior. As a parent, if your teenager is exhibiting any of the following, you may want to take a second look and try to determine whether or not substance abuse might be a factor.
Have you noticed any of these signs of addiction within your child over the last several weeks? If you've noticed more than one, and you have other suspicions that make you think that a drug or alcohol addiction might be a problem, it's important to take the correct actions to confront your teen.
Teenagers are not fully developed yet, and their bodies are often not able to handle the toxic effects of drugs and alcohol the same way that an adult can. Because of this, even a one-time experiment with substances can be enough to cause sickness, an overdose, or even death. When there is so much of a foreign substance in the blood, the body of a teen is not able to detoxify itself quickly enough, and its various functions can fail.
As teens continue to use, they're putting their bodies into more stressful situations than can cause them a host of problems. As your teenager's addiction continues, he or she is likely to lose control of how much or how often the use of substances occurs.
In the short-term, with continued substance abuse, your son or daughter is likely to experience:
As time goes on, some of the long-term effects of continued substance abuse can lead to:
Of course, drugs and alcohol also have a very toxic impact on the brain; and this is especially true in someone whose brain is still developing. Substance abuse can alter the way the brain functions and usually, this type of damage cannot be reversed. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is still maturing for teenagers. It is the area that is responsible for decision-making and awareness. If it is damaged through the use of substances, your teen will already be at a high risk for making poor decisions, having lower memory abilities, slow reaction times and a short attention span. As your son or daughter gets older, even if the drug or alcohol abuse stops, these side effects are likely to linger.
Sometimes parents tend to think of substance abuse as being relatively harmless, and they assume that it is something that will stop once the their children become adults. While this can sometimes be the case for some teens, it's not always the case for everyone. In fact, in 2010, it was found that 65% of all inmates in U.S. prisons met the criteria for addiction, and of those, 90% of them started using when they were in high school.
This does not mean that any teenager who uses drugs or alcohol is destined to end up in jail or prison, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that using as teenagers puts them at great risk for serious consequences later on in their lives. Eventually, these addictive behaviors could result in dramatic legal problems for them later on in their lives if nothing is done to resolve them while they're young.
When teenagers use drugs and alcohol, the effects of substances on them can sometimes turn violent or unpredictable. Teenagers can easily end up in fights with their friends, with drug dealers, or even with strangers. Some teen addicts will even challenge their teachers in school, or other authority figures. Addiction can result in living a life of crime that includes stealing, driving while under the influence or vandalism.
It's also important to note that continuing drug or alcohol use among teens can lead to a ruined reputation among their peers at school, which can result in a young person who is withdrawal and self-conscious. This tends to create a terrible cycle because the only solution they can see is to use in order to self-medicate how they've come to feel about themselves.
While it might be difficult to get a teenager to admit to getting professional treatment for his or her addiction, the fact of the matter is that drug and alcohol treatment for teens does work, and it works very well. However, you do need to be sure you're getting your child the right kind of help. It isn't enough just to go to a clinic that focuses on the addiction and does not focus on the issues that led to the addiction occurring in the first place. Those who receive this type of treatment are very likely to return to using very quickly after their treatment has come to an end.
Many teenagers struggle with what is referred to as co-occurring disorders, and dual diagnosis treatment is appropriate for these types of situations. A teen may be diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder if he or she is found to be struggling with some type of mental health condition alongside the addiction. For example, some teenagers struggle with:
All of these qualify as co-occurring disorders, and these have a tremendous effect on addiction. Unless both are treated at the same time, the likelihood of recovery is very small.
For a teenager, going to a drug or alcohol addiction treatment facility can be very embarrassing for them. They're desperately trying to uphold their reputation in front of their friends, and knowing that they're going to have to tell their friends they need to get help can be difficult. As a result, it's not surprising that most young people will try to convince their parents to allow them to try and stop using on their own. Unfortunately, many parents will give their children a chance without much thought as to what might go wrong if it doesn't work.
The most likely outcome is for them to relapse back into their drug use or alcohol use, and when this occurs, they are at a great risk for overdosing. This is because their tolerance levels have changed, and the amount of substances they were able to handle before is not the same as it is now. If an overdose occurs, it can lead to death if medical attention is not sought quickly enough.
There are several different types of addiction treatment that you might want to consider for your child, and they all have their benefits. However, it's important to talk with a professional about your son or daughter's personal situation so that the proper recommendation for treatment can be made.
It's quite common for teenagers to deny having any type of addiction to drugs or alcohol. They may admit to using from time to time, but even though you can see the signs plainly, it's typical for them to be in denial. As a parent, that can make it very difficult for you to get your son or daughter the help that's needed to recover, and you might not be sure what you can do to offer further assistance.
In cases like these, it's wise to search for intervention services that can help you. During an intervention, you and other friends and family members will be able to sit down with your child and talk about the need for treatment. In these situations, many teenagers will agree to get help, as long as it happens right away.
For many families, the cost of addiction treatment is often the main concern that keeps them from getting more information about various types of treatment for their children. Perhaps this is also a concern that you have, and you worry that you won't be able to afford to get help for your teen. If that is the case, please know that there is a solution available to you through the Affordable Care Act.
You may know the Affordable Care Act as a new healthcare law that has been in place in the United States for several years, and most people connect it with a requirement for them to have health insurance for themselves and their families. However, this law also offers so much more in the way of financial protection. It also requires your health insurance company to offer benefits to you or anyone in your family when they have a need for addiction treatment. In the past, your health insurance might have required you to meet a high deductible, or they might not have offered this type of coverage at all. That is no longer the case because of these new changes.
One of the best things about the Affordable Care Act is the fact that so many more people have been able to get help for their addictions when prior to now, they didn't think it was possible for them. As long as you find a good, high-quality drug and alcohol rehab center that will participate with your health insurance, you may find that the entire cost of treatment is covered in full.
If you have questions about this, or if you would like us to verify your health insurance for your son or daughter, we would be happy to do that for you. That way, you will have all the information you need to know how to proceed with getting help for your teen.
Maybe you are an addicted teenager who has finally made the decision to stop using. It wasn't an easy decision, but it's something you feel that you need to do. The problem you're facing now is that you just don't know how to proceed or what you should do to get help. You may know that you need to talk with your parents about what's going on, but that's a conversation you just can't imagine having. So many young people find themselves in this same position, and it is a tough place to be.
Maybe your mom or dad has suspected that you were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or perhaps they are always so busy that they haven't seemed to notice that anything has been off about you lately. Either way, you need to know how you should go about talking with them and getting them to agree to help you.
We’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of different young people who all came to that same realization. These are individuals who were struggling just as you are right now, and many of them didn't know how to bring up the subject of their addictions to their parents either. By taking the right steps, knowing what to say and when to say it, you too can have that difficult but rewarding conversation with your parent or guardian so that your healing journey can begin.
The very first step as you're thinking about talking with your family about your substance abuse problem is to prepare yourself for the questions they will ask you. This is such an important conversation, and they deserve to have their questions answered. That means that when they ask them, you need to be ready to share the details with them. They may want to know:
It's also possible that they might not want to know every detail about your substance abuse problem, but if they do, it's important to know what you're going to tell them. By answering their questions, you're showing them that you have enough respect for them to give them the information they want to know.
It's possible that just the very thought of having to sit down with your parent or guardian makes you so nervous that you're sick to your stomach just thinking about it. If that is the case, and if it's something that you just can't seem to get past, you might want to consider writing a letter instead. It can be very helpful to get everything you're feeling about your drug or alcohol addiction and your deception down on paper. You can be more articulate, you can have more control over what you're saying, and you can take as much time as you need.
In fact, some experts agree that it might be a good idea for you to write a letter anyway, even if you don't intend to give it to them. Doing so will help you at least get all of your thoughts together before you actually talk with them in person.
If you're really nervous about talking with your mom or dad about your addiction, it's a good idea to take someone along with you that you can trust. This might be another trusted adult whom you feel more comfortable with. That person can act as a buffer between you and your parents, and he or she might even be able to guide the conversation in a healthier way than you could on your own. If nothing more, your trusted friend or relative might be willing to hold your hand as you talk, giving you the strength you need to have the conversation.
Even when you know your parents really well, it's nearly impossible to guess what their reaction will be to the news that you have an addiction. They may respond in one of a hundred different ways, and their responses may evolve in the days following your conversation with them. You should be prepared for:
Regardless of how they respond to your admission, it's important for you to remain as calm as you can during your conversation. They need to know that you're serious, and even if they decide to punish you, take your punishment in stride. Admit that you deserve to lose your driving privileges, or that you agree that it's not a good idea for you to hang out with the same group of people you had been spending time with. This type of responses from you is sure to comfort them because they'll know you're serious about getting the help you need to recover.
One thought that may give you comfort during this time is the thought that your parents might already know about your addiction or substance abuse problem. Even when teenagers think they are doing a great job of hiding these types of behaviors, parents often have almost a sixth sense about what's going on. If they do know, it's difficult to guess why they haven't come to you about it. It might be because they felt as uncomfortable as you do now about bringing it up to you, so they kept putting it off. It might be because they wanted to give you some space in hopes that you would make the right decision and seek treatment. It could even be that they just as a suspicion that you were using drugs or alcohol, but they didn't have any real, hard evidence yet.
If your parents tell you that they have been suspecting that you had an addiction, it will bring you some relief, for sure. However, they still may have a less than favorable reaction to the news.
The most important part of telling your mom, dad or guardian about your problem with addiction is asking them for help. Once all of their questions are answered and the sting of your honesty has faded a bit, let them know that you don't know what you should do next. Your first instinct might be to just quit using, and you may even feel motivated enough in that moment to try and do it on your own. However, these attempts rarely work out, even for adults who feel as though they have all the willpower they will ever need. If you attempt to stop using on your own, it is very likely that you will relapse back into drug or alcohol use, and if that happens, you are at a very high risk for an overdose.
Your parents will want to help you, but they might not know what to do, either. The very first step is to contact a drug and alcohol treatment center and talk with someone about the admission process. The admissions counselor will talk with your mom, dad or guardian and tell them everything they need to know.
This is a conversation that you might need to be a part of, because the first goal will be to find you the type of treatment that will help you the most. For many young people, inpatient rehab is the best course of action, and there are a few reasons for this. Inpatient drug or alcohol rehab will remove you from the situation you're currently in, and it will completely immerse you into your treatment. You'll have access to a counselor who will work with you to figure out why you started using drugs or alcohol, and together, you'll discover the root cause of your addiction. This is the only way that real healing can take place in your life.
You'll also work within various support groups with other patients who are facing similar situations. You will be able to talk with them about their addiction experiences, and learn a great deal about different ways you can cope. In fact, you will most likely help them as much as they help you.
Getting addiction treatment is so important, and you'll need your parent or guardian to be on your side as you take this vital step.
Having a conversation with your parent or guardian about your addiction might very well be the most difficult thing you ever do in your life. It's important to remember that there may be a range of reactions from your parents. They may be relieved because they suspected and you're willing to get help. They may feel lied to, and they may react with anger and fear about what could have happened to you because of your drug or alcohol use. It's important for you to be ready for their reaction, but it's also important for you to remain calm and ask for the help you need to recover.
At Northpoint Recovery, we offer young adult rehab that is specifically targeted to address the issues that you are experiencing in your life right now. It has been a privilege for us to be able to help so many other young people who found themselves to be addicted to drugs or alcohol, and because we use the most modern methods available, our success rates are higher than the national average.