Being a parent of a teenager struggling with addiction is an extremely difficult situation to be in. While many teens simply experiment with alcohol and drugs, some of them end up with problems and addiction. We’ll explore the relationship between a teen addict and their parent(s), and discuss ways to help what might seem like an impossible thing to fix.
When we hear about stories of teen addicts who end up in jail or worse—it’s easy to picture ourselves doing a better job of intervening should we be in that situation. The reality is, it’s much harder to deal with than one could imagine. Perhaps it’s easier to think the parent has done a bad job raising their child than bearing the thought of it happening to anyone. Noticing the signs of abuse can be more challenging that one thinks, and good parenting doesn’t always protect the child from making bad decisions and those spiraling out of control.
The reality is many teenagers will experiment with drugs and/or alcohol, and there’s not much one can do as a parent to completely stop that. Educating children about substance and alcohol abuse as much as possible can help them understand the potential dangers associated with experimenting. Some may try it a few times and end up fine, while others could end up with a problem, and it isn’t always easy to see. Some teens have the ability to live a fairly normal lifestyle—i.e. doing well in school, enjoying extracurricular activities, and seeming happy—all while balancing a substance abuse issue.
There’s a lot at stake when a teenager develops a drug or alcohol addiction, perhaps most importantly, the brain. When drugs enter the brain, they interfere with its normal processing and can eventually lead to changes in how well it works. They affect the brain stem, limbic system, and cerebral cortex, which are responsible for breathing, moving blood, digesting food, emotional responses, all of our senses, and the ability to think, plan, solve problems, and make decisions. We know the brain is still developing in teenagers, so if one develops an addiction it can greatly affect their growing brain, thus leading to possible issues with any of the aforementioned processes the brain is responsible for.
If you suspect a teenager is abusing drugs or alcohol, take it seriously. Don’t assume they are just experimenting here and there, for the problem could be worse than that. If they have a problem, it’s crucial to seek professional treatment so they don’t end up facing mental and physical health issues, and possibly legal ones as well.
LEAD Recovery Center has a staff of recovery experts who are available to answer questions, so call today at 800-380-0012.