The teenage years can be a tumultuous time, which lead to drug and alcohol use during these years. Parents need to know the facts about substance use and abuse to help their children overcome temptations and pressures to try substances. Below are five basic facts parents need to know about substance abuse and addiction.
Experimenting with Substances is not a Normal “Rite of Passage”
Some parents make the mistake of assuming that experimentation with drugs and alcohol during the teen years is a normal “rite of passage.” After all, they had their wild moments back in their heyday, so it stands to reason their kids will do the same. However, drugs like marijuana are much more dangerous today than they were in the decades when today’s parents were teens. Even casual use can lead to addiction and even death.
Substance Abuse Often Goes Hand-in-Hand with Mental Illness
A high percentage of teens abusing substances may also have a diagnosable mental illness like anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. To ensure a successful recovery, both the mental illness and the substance abuse must be addressed and treated. Parents need to be aware of this potential and watch for symptoms of mental illness that may require diagnosis and treatment.
There are Identifiable Risk Factors for Substance Abuse
While you can’t always predict the teens that will struggle with substance abuse, there are some specific risk factors to recognize. Common risks for teen drug and alcohol abuse include:
- A family history of substance abuse
- Early behavioral issues like aggressive or disruptive behavior
- Mental illnesses like depression or anxiety
- Disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Biggest Dangers Not Always from Alcohol and Marijuana
Many parents make the mistake of focusing on alcohol and marijuana when evaluating their teens for substance use. However, two other categories of drugs have become increasingly dangerous for teen users in recent years. Prescription drug abuse, involving pain medications, stimulants or depressants, has gone up significantly. Inhalants, involving many common household products, are also a notable danger for teens and even pre-teens today.
Parents can be a Positive Influence in Whether a Teen Uses
Parents often think they have little or no influence over their teenagers during these rebellious years. However, research has shown that setting strong boundaries in the home, making it clear drug use is unacceptable and having regular conversations with your children about drug and alcohol use can make a significant difference in whether teens will use during this period. Don’t be afraid to address the issue of drugs and alcohol with your teens, because if you don’t, someone else very well might.
At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we work with teens and their families every day to help them overcome substance addiction and discover a healthy, sober lifestyle. To get more information about substance abuse or treatment options, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.