Drug abuse is a major problem for teens in our society. According to the National Institutes of Health NIH, teen drug use continues to be a problem lead by the popularity of marijuana. Regardless of the acceptance of marijuana as a medicinal drug, its use is dangerous to your teen’s health and often leads to experimentation with more dangerous drugs and addiction.

Drug use has many damaging consequences. It leads to poor health, dangerous behavior, and long term economic problems. It impairs the ability to learn and sustain positive life-affirming activities such as long term work and strong positive relationships.

Adolescent drug abuse is one of the main factors in adult drug abuse problems. 50% of adults with substance abuse problems started as teens. The younger the age, the more likely they will have drug abuse problems in adulthood. It is imperative that parents understand the problem and have the tools to help their kids avoid drugs and live healthy productive lives. (See Is My Teen Using? below.)

Teen Drug Addiction Has Devastating Consequences

Few things in life affect us as deeply and profoundly as drug abuse. Drug use alters our perceptions and relationships to every aspect of life. They dull our mind, our senses, our judgments, and lead to a diminished experience of life. This is the truth.

The effects of drug abuse can be especially devastating to teens and adolescents:

  • Impaired thinking skills
  • Difficulty keeping jobs
  • Difficulty keeping relationships
  • Economic hardships
  • Lost interest in valuable activities (education, job skills, etc)
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment regarding driving and sex
  • Liver failure and other types of serious medical issues
  • Psychotic episodes (especially from methamphetamine and synthetic drugs)

Avoiding The Trap

As a parent, you worry about how your child will get through the teen years without falling into the trap. It is every parent’s nightmare that their kid has become addicted to drugs. So, how do you avoid that situation? You need to educate yourself about drug addiction, have an understanding of the problem and learn how you can become a part of the solution.

As you read through this essay, think about how the material fits into your life. Do any of these things sound familiar? Are there any actions you might need to take now?

Risk Factors

How do kids get involved with drugs?

  • Peer pressure
  • Glamorized in media – music, movies, and video games.
  • Lax attitudes – legalization, political agendas, and medicinal uses
  • Poor choice of friends
  • Unsupervised time
  • Family problems and history with drugs and alcohol

There is no one-way to get involved in drugs. Drugs are unfortunately easy to acquire and available to just about any teen. They have become a pervasive part of our society. So, access is not difficult. The media glamorizes drug abuse in film and music, and we have lax attitudes towards drug use. One thing is for certain, your adolescent will have opportunity to experiment with drugs and will need to make a decision. If you look at your family situation, are any of the risk factors above present? Think about friends, free time and music.

Is My Teen Using?

How can you tell if your teen is using? There are many possible signs of drug use. Individually, they may be a part of normal growing up. But if there are many signs together, they may indicate possible drug use. If your teen has mood swings, changes their style, is temperamental and moody, aggressive and secretive at times, it may be indications of a problem.

If you think there is a problem, what do you do? You do an assessment. Below is a list of things you should consider. It is a long list, but an important one. Before you have a talk with your teen, you should be clear about why you think they are using drugs. That is the first step.

  • First, do you know where your teen is most of the time?
  • Do you know what activities they are engaged in on their free time?
  • Do your teen’s friends abuse drugs?
  • Are prescriptions drugs missing?
  • There have been noticeable changes in behavior?
  • Hostile, secretive, mood swings
  • Tired all the time
  • Clumsy or lack of balance
  • Lethargic and unable to focus
  • Decreased motivation
  • Spending excess time alone
  • Changes in personal appearance
  • Messy or careless appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Soot on fingers
  • Red face or swollen, puffy appearance
  • Long sleeves or pants in warm weather hiding marks
  • Smell of smoke on clothing
  • Changes in personal habits
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Getting the munchies
  • Increased use of air fresheners or perfume
  • Never has money
  • Locked bedroom doors
  • Constant health issues
  • Frequently sick
  • Constant runny nose
  • Unusual sores
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • School and work problems
  • Chronic tardiness
  • Loss of interest
  • Lower grades
  • Always late for work

What To Do If Your Teen Is Using Drugs?

Have A Conversation

Okay, so you have gone through the list and think there is a problem. At this point you need to have a conversation with your teen about drugs. Even though you may be certain that there is drug use, you want to try avoid a hostile conversation with your teen. Do you best to follow these guidelines:

  • Be calm and collected
  • Be clear about your expectations
  • Set boundaries
  • Give emotional support
  • Communicate openly

This may be all that you need to do. Having this conversation before serious problems arrive is critical in helping your teen understand the dangers and consequences of drug use. However, if the problem is more extensive, you will have to take stronger action.

When A Conversation Is Not Enough

Persistent problems require a higher level of intervention. If your teen is not getting the message and keeps getting into trouble, you should look at treatment options that are more intensive and comprehensive. It is important to try to address drug abuse problems before they get too serious. Small drug abuse problems with less harmful drugs tend to escalate to more serious problems if not dealt with appropriately and immediately.

Support Groups

Once you have identified a problem, there are a number of ways to help. One of them is support groups. NA is a popular resource for recovering addicts. Recovery is best done in a group setting. Recovery groups help you come to terms with your addiction and relieve some of the burden and guilt associate with addiction. Also, your teen will get to participate with others in a shared cause, which helps recovery greatly. Support groups are excellent if your teen is experimenting with drugs and not clearly addicted.

Treatment Centers

When would you want to send your teen to a treatment center? If your drug problem has progressed to a stage where it is no longer an experimentation, but has become a dependency, then you may want to consider a treatment center. There are other circumstances where a treatment center is the right choice as well. Below is a short list if indicators.

  • Usage is at 3 or more times a week
  • It has become a clear dependency, not just experimenting
  • Addiction is accompanied with behavior disorders
  • The family is addicted (parents have addiction problems also).

Treating Substance Abuse At Fire Mountain

At our residential treatment facility, we deal with teens who often have serious addictions. Our focus in not on the substance used but on the addiction itself. No matter what is drug used, addictions have common themes and solutions. We work with every aspect of your teens life to bring about a profound shift in awareness and the ability to deal with life’s challenges in an positive and powerful way.

To learn more about our teen residential treatment center and whether it’s right for your teen and check for availability, contact us for a FREE 30 minute consultation at (303) 443-3343 or write us at jill@firemountainprograms.com.

You May Also Be Interested In