What should you do if you find out that your teen is using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs?
If your teen is using alcohol,
tobacco, or drugs, take it seriously. One of the most important things you can
do is to talk openly with your teen about the problem. Urge him or her to do
the same. Try not to use harsh, judging words. Be as supportive as you can
during this time.
In most cases, a hostile, angry face-to-face meeting pushes
your teen away from the family. If you don't know what to do or if you feel
uncomfortable, ask for help from a
psychologist, or psychiatrist.
The type of treatment your
teen needs depends on the level of substance abuse. For example, if your teen has
tried drugs or alcohol only a few times, talking openly with him or her about the problem may
be all that you need to do. But
if your teen has a
substance abuse problem, then he or she needs to be
seen by a doctor, a counselor, or both. If your teen is addicted to a drug or
alcohol, he or she may need to have detoxification treatment or a treatment
that replaces the substance with medicine. Medicine works best if it is
combined with one-on-one or family counseling, or both.
to substance abuse, called relapse, is common after treatment. It is not a
failure on the part of your teen or the treatment program. Recovery from
addiction is hard and takes time. Know that there may be setbacks that your
teen will need to overcome one step at a time.
Can teen substance use and abuse be prevented?
help prevent substance use:
- Talk to your child early about what you
expect in his or her behavior toward alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. If your
teen thinks that you will allow substance use, he or she is more likely to try
drugs or alcohol.
- Keep your teen busy with meaningful activities,
such as sports, church programs, or other groups.
- Expect your teen
to follow the household rules. Set reasonable consequences for behavior that needs to change, and
consistently carry out the consequences.
- Keep talking with your teen. Praise
your teen for even the little things he or she does well.
your child's friends. Having friends who avoid cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs
may be your teen's best protection from substance abuse.