Substance abuse is a significant problem among teens. What often starts as a social recreation can become a debilitating addiction. How do you know what it’s time to get help? And how do you get help?
Here are some ideas.
Are You Really Addicted?
If you are really addicted to a substance, it will control you rather than the other way around. It’s hard to get a good look at yourself to evaluate whether or not you’re addicted, so try asking yourself these questions:
- Could I go without this drug/substance for a day? Week?
- Do I use this substance daily or more than once a day?
- Do I feel weird or out of whack if I don’t take this drug or use this substance?
- If you had to stop using the drug or substance, could you?
If you answered the above in the following pattern – no, yes, yes, no – then you probably have an addiction problem.
Tell Your Parents
Of course you don’t want to do this. But honestly, they probably know something is up anyway and, though they will initially be upset, they will ultimately welcome the opportunity to help you. Parents are usually greatly relieved to be sought after by their teens if they have a problem.
Your school counselor will probably have a lot of good resources for you, with lists of various programs and centers where you can get help. Other adults in your life – family friends, pastors, and so forth – are also excellent resources for teens with substance abuse problems.
Parents and friends may wonder how they can help as they see their teen exhibiting behavior they can’t explain. What can you do to get help? For one thing, brace yourself. You will likely encounter anger, emotional outbursts, finger-pointing and name-calling (“You’re such a hypocrite!”), screaming, and a generally unpleasant encounter. This is not always the case, but it is likely to be, so prepare yourself.
Don’t forget to remind your friend or teen of your love and commitment to help. Remain calm and do not engage in irrational arguments. Identify with the teen’s feelings, and let them know specific rules and consequences with this in mind. Make the consequences and rules very clear, and let your teen know you are there for him or her no matter what.
If necessary, concerned friends and parents can look into drug rehabilitation programs and facilities in their area. Enroll your teen in one of these if you feel it’s needed.