Sober Life understands that when parents believe their teen is struggling with addiction, it can leave them with many questions. One of the first is how to identify the problem. For people in this position, the answer is often to learn as much as possible to help their teen.
What Constitutes Addiction?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction in the following way:
“Addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. Those changes last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs.”
This definition applies to people of all ages. Because of that, this definition should be a reminder that when anyone of any age has crossed the line into addiction, they need assistance as soon as possible.
When Parents Condone Teenage Experimentation
Parents often struggle to distinguish whether their teen is struggling with an actual problem or is simply engaged in acts of teenage experimentation. Often, they want to believe the latter. However, this mindset may be the first thing that needs to change.
Most people reminisce about experimentation during their teen years, whether with sex, drugs, or alcohol. However, even though most people experiment and then walk away okay, that leaves quite a few others that cannot walk away without severe consequences. These individuals, for many reasons, cannot quit.
Therefore, it is important to remember that although teenagers do not need to have constant supervision, it is important for parents to talk with their teens to assess their level of substance use.
Starting a Dialogue
The first thing to do is to start a dialogue as soon as possible. There are two points when this can happen: before there are any issues or, in some cases after parents begin to suspect that their teen is struggling with addiction.
Talking Before Issues Arise
When young people begin exploring their world without constant supervision, they will also explore their emotions. This is a pivotal time when new problems arise, and various solutions can appear. For parents, this time is about steering teens toward the right solutions.
Perhaps the best way to begin is to have an open and honest discussion as far in advance as possible. The goal is to open the lines of communication and create a healthy dialogue where teens can feel comfortable talking with their parents.
Talking After Issues Arise
if the dialogue begins after a problem has been identified, parents will need to approach the situation differently. The first thing to know is that the situation will often require more navigation than in the previous example.
In this case, the goal is to start the discussion to allow the teen to express themselves. This may manifest as anger, sadness, or frustration. Above all, parents must be aware of how their reactions will impact the discussion. Parents must be able to show concern but not place undue pressure on the teen. It is also important to listen to what the teen has to say, as that will inform how the conversation moves forward.
The Warning Signs That a Teen Is Struggling
Often, the question that arises is what warning signs to watch for. Parents rightly believe that if they are informed, they may be able to understand that there is trouble brewing and possibly head the problem off. Warning signs may include:
- A sudden lack of motivation
- Mood swings
- Increased irritability
- Unexplained changes in personality
The obvious issue is that these are often natural behaviors in teenagers. Teens’ hormones are all over the place, feelings are often easily hurt, and they are trying hard to fit in while also finding themselves. For these reasons, consistent conversations and checking in can be the best strategies for parents.
Finding Assistance and Being Supportive When a Teen Is Struggling
Once an issue has been identified, the next step is to find the best assistance as soon as possible. However, families should not feel that they need to do this alone. It is recommended that individuals dealing with addiction enter an addiction-specific program. When they do, medical professionals can guide them through the process in a safe and secure environment.
The good news is that there is no end to the amount of resources available to those who need them. This is true both for people struggling with addiction as well as for their families. People tend to forget that addiction can have dire effects on families and family dynamics. For this reason, most recovery centers have programs to assist both groups. These centers realize that during and after treatment, a client will need as much outside help as possible. Having family members who are also committed to healthy dynamics and behaviors helps people reacclimate to everyday life more easily.
Receiving Support for the Whole Family When a Teen Is Struggling
After deciding to enter a teen into a recovery program, families can breathe a sigh of relief. When the teen is now in a safe place where they can heal, it can also be the best time for family members to begin their healing journeys.
The truth is that parents are constantly nervous about their teen’s behaviors. When an issue has been identified, and the family can heal as a supportive unit, it will help everyone. The programs at Sober Life are in place to give clients and their families a feeling of safety and security throughout the recovery process and beyond.
There are few things more frightening than realizing your teen may be struggling with an addiction. That is why it is important for parents to know the signs of addiction. Sober Life is prepared to assist you in this search for answers. With our qualified staff, one-of-a-kind programs, and our desire to help, we can place families on the path to healing. For many people, the entire concept of addiction can be foreign, but knowledge is power and we want to place that power in your hands. If you believe your teen may be struggling with addiction, contact Sober Life to gain a better idea of how to handle the next steps. Call us today at (619) 542-9542.