If you think that
your teen is using alcohol or drugs, gather all the information you can before
taking your teen to a health professional. This will help ensure an accurate
Health professionals who
can diagnose and treat substance abuse problems include:
Professional counseling for
addiction, either individually or in a group setting, can be done by a:
health professional believes that your teen may have a substance abuse problem, he
or she will ask about your child's
medical history and will do a
physical exam. He or she will ask
questions about your teen's attitude toward substance use, the history of use, and
any effects of drug use. The health professional will want to talk with your teen in private.
Urine, blood, or
hair drug analysis (toxicology testing) or a
blood alcohol test is not usually done to diagnose
abuse problems. Health professionals generally will not do these tests without
the teen's consent. Parental consent is not enough unless
there is a medical or legal reason for testing.
The health professional may try to find out if your teen has
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
depression, long-term depressed mood (dysthymic
anxiety disorders, or
post-traumatic stress disorder. These health problems are common in teens who
abuse substances. Your child's doctor will want to treat these problems and the substance abuse.
Your doctor may refer you to a professional
who is experienced in teen alcohol and drug problems.
Ideally, when your child is about
9 years old, your doctor will begin asking about your child's attitudes toward alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. As your child grows, the doctor will continue to discuss this issue during medical visits. Getting help at an early age is very important. That's because early
substance use increases the chance that your child will become dependent on alcohol or have
other risky behaviors.
A health professional who suspects that you
or another family member has a substance abuse problem will discuss treatment.
Getting treatment early for yourself (or another family member) decreases your
child's risk of having a substance abuse problem. Also, your child
will be more likely to get treatment early if he or she does develop a
substance abuse problem.