Helping Your Chemically Dependent Teenager Recover_ A Guide for Parents and Other Concerned Adults
There are many circles of influence in a teen's life. Beginning in families, teens gain an understanding of both healthy and unhealthy behaviors. Parents and other caregivers who clearly communicate the risks of substance abuse with their children reduce the likelihood that their children will use substances by half. And, the behavior that parents and other family members model can have a huge impact on the beliefs that children will develop about alcohol and other drugs.
An early interest in alcohol, other drugs or substance use behaviors by children may be a warning sign that caretakers can address. A teen's circle of friends can also shape their beliefs and behavior regarding substance use. Teens are constantly trying to figure out how they fit into their world. As they work to find their place, teens can be strongly influenced by the behavior of those closest to them.
If young people spend time with other teens who are engaged in risky, unhealthy behaviors, they are more likely to engage in those behaviors themselves. As a caring adult, be aware of any shifts in friendships, associations and activities in which teens are engaged. Ask simple questions of the teens in your life e. If a teen is vague about who they hang out with or how they are spending their social time, take that opportunity to dig a little deeper into the specifics.
In these conversations, it is important to remember to relate, rather than interrogate; being genuinely interested in teens' lives and their relationships is a powerful protective factor. A teen's surroundings are also comprised of what they observe in the culture at large. Movies, television, the internet and music help shape perceptions about substance use. Media can portray substance use as cool, fun and entertaining.
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This same media can neglect to broadcast the negative consequences of teen alcohol and other drug use. These incomplete media messages can lead to dangerous misperceptions by teens about the realities of use. If a teen enjoys a movie or a song dealing with alcohol or other drug use, this may not be a warning sign in and of itself; however, these interests could lead to misperceptions about substance use in a teen's environment or culture.
And, perceptions shape behavior. Being aware of teens' views regarding alcohol and other drug use can be a valuable tool in identifying risk and taking a preventative stance in their lives. Talking with teens about the realities of substance use can powerfully impact their perceptions; don't be afraid to finish a conversation that society has started.
The teen years are a time of great change. Body and brain changes occur at a quick pace. A healthy, growing teen's behavior can include sometimes worrisome mood swings, emotional outbursts and demands for privacy.
But the more familiar you are with a child, the more you will be able to discern whether what you are observing is typical adolescent growth or the warning signs of an alcohol or other drug problem. Be alert if you notice any of the following changes:. One of the most challenging aspects of addiction is that it is a progressive disease. Early warning signs can go unnoticed until well into unhealthy patterns of use and even addiction. By being involved in a child's daily life, an adult can become familiar with what a teen is impassioned by, where the teen derives joy, and what gives the teen confidence.
This awareness can provide endless opportunities to validate a child's interests and achievements.
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Periods of high and low energy Unexplained paranoid or anxious behavior Periods of drowsiness followed by periods of high energy. Rapid changes in personality without any reason. Changes in appetite. Dry mouth and excessive drinking. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, and other stomach problems. Troubled sleep.
Sudden unexplained weight loss or gain. Not all of the signs listed above mean a teen is abusing drugs.
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Some of them could indicate other issues. For instance, as a child becomes a teenager, he or she often changes friends. They become interested in new things. Their way of dressing might change to match trends. This is especially true for girls. All this notwithstanding, the more signs that are present, the more likely it is that a teen is using drugs.
Drug abuse at a young age raises many medical and mental health concerns and impacts school performance adversely. It can also exacerbate underlying mental health issues. Teens suffering from depression are more likely to attempt suicide after beginning to abuse drugs. Drug abuse can lead to severe weight loss and health risks stemming from inadequate nutrition. When under the influence, a teen might engage in risky sexual behavior, such as casual unprotected sex. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, car crashes are the leading cause of death among young people aged 16 to 19 years.
Teenagers are less experienced and are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations than adults.
They are also more likely to speed. When these factors and drug use are combined, the outcome can be tragic, and often is. A survey of junior high and high school students showed that 12 percent of high school seniors had driven after using marijuana and 9 percent had driven after drinking alcohol in the 14 days before the survey. According to a report of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality , almost half a million young adults signed up at a publicly funded treatment facility for alcohol or drug addiction or abuse in Most of them were referred by the criminal justice system — several hundred a day.
The crime most commonly committed by teens abusing drugs is theft, but violent crimes are frequent too. Drug abuse can lead to truancy or even being expelled or dropping out of school because the teen has lost interest in studying. Opioid painkillers can be found at home, as mentioned, and more people die in the United States from opioid painkiller overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined, including many teens.
How Do Drugs and Alcohol Affect a Teen’s Brain?
If a teen is buying drugs from an illegitimate online pharmacy, they have no way of knowing the actual dosage they have obtained, and this makes overdose a horrifyingly real possibility. Drugs sold online may be stolen, diluted, handled improperly, or contaminated. Overdose is a risk even if the online pharmacy is legal, but located abroad. Among the factors contributing to this risk are lax drug regulations in the foreign country, language barriers, and different formulas of drugs.
Understanding the Diverse Needs of Children whose Parents Abuse Substances
All parents want to prevent drug abuse in their children, and it is crucial to intervene before abuse has spiraled into addiction. Here are some ways to achieve this. Talk to the child about illicit substances Tell them about the abuse legal consequences Discuss the harmful effects on health. Set up the clear and distinct rules for all the family members Enforce these rules Violation must not be left without adequate consequences.
Praise children Help them build a self-esteem and confidence Appreciate their honesty Become the first person a child shares emotions with. Learn about signs of abuse, new types of drugs and drug paraphernalia Be aware of potentially abusive substances in the house Learn the street names for drugs. One should also preach the importance of rules, and keep conversations about drugs and alcohol fact-based. Older children will benefit from knowing about the effects of drug use on physical appearance.
If a teen is 16 or older, using realistic messages and emphasizing the consequences of drug abuse is recommended, such as not getting into college and not being able to obtain employment and money. One can use news reports or stories about people they both know to start a conversation related to drugs. If a child made a positive choice, make sure to praise them for it. Assuming a teen is abusing drugs is not a sufficient reason to accuse them of this. Gathering evidence first is a better idea.
Common hiding places for drugs are dresser and desk drawers, small jewelry or pencil boxes, fake lipstick containers or makeup cases, backpacks, between books on a bookshelf, and even in plant pots, buried in the dirt.
How will they react? Expect them to be angry or accuse a parent of being hypocritical, like calling a parent out for smoking or drinking. Respond that one is an adult and they do these things responsibly. Alternatively, if found to be holding drugs, they might play the innocent. No matter what they say, remain calm. If the atmosphere gets heated anyway, put it off or contact a specialist to find de-escalation techniques that work.
Things will go more smoothly where realistic expectations are present. A teen will not just admit using and promise to stop, and if they do, they may not follow through on this. Decide on a more reasonable goal, like simply expressing that one is against their use of drugs, and make sure they understand why. Reiterate the risks and dangers and give examples. If the desired outcome is not reached for whatever reason, getting professional help would be a good idea.
Experts are able to diagnose the extent of abuse and whether it has spiraled into addiction. Treatment will then depend on the severity of substance abuse, and will vary in terms of duration and the methods used. If one chooses inpatient rehab for a teen, they will not be able to leave the facility without permission.
This type of rehab offers a safe environment with a set structure. On the downside, the teen will not be able to go to school for at least a month. We want you to count on us to help you make smart decisions and stay safe, okay?
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