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Confronting Adolescent Substance Abuse


As parents, it is our duty to protect our children from the dangers of alcohol or drug abuse. Some studies have shown that as early as age 5, parents can begin educating their children on the harmful effects of alcohol, illegal drugs, and even prescription medication.  When children are toddlers, parents child-proof their homes from dangerous things such as poisonous chemicals and harmful objects. So why wouldn’t parents start teaching their children at an early age of the dangers of alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medication?

Addressing the topic of adolescent substance abuse with your children is never an easy thing to do. It’s an uncomfortable and touchy topic. However, talking to them about it openly and honestly is the best way to prevent adolescent substance abuse in the long-run.

Talking to Your Kids About Substance Abuse

As children get older, they will become very curious and may want to try alcohol, an illegal drug, or prescription medication. They may even feel peer pressure at school to try one of these substances. That’s why it is so important for parents to start talking to their children at a young age. 

By the time children reach 8 or 9 years old, a parent should be able to explain the dangers of adolescent substance abuse and how these substances can easily lead to addiction.[1]  Parents need to teach their children that trying any of these substances can lead to addiction.  

Educate them about whether or not alcohol or drug abuse runs in the family and that it is genetic, which makes substance abuse even more dangerous with the potential for addiction. Parents need to be honest with their children about their own use in the past if they experimented with illegal drugs or alcohol or even prescription medication and how they learned about the dangers by their own mistakes. If a parent drinks alcohol, they need to insist that it is for adults only and is used responsibly. 

Insist that a child or teen understands there is a zero-tolerance for any kind of use of alcohol, illegal drug, or prescription medication. In addition, explain that there will be consequences if they break the rules. Explain to them what these consequences are. It is crucial for parents to tell their children that they love them and want to protect them. Most importantly, you never want to make your child feel judged or lectured. Instead, encourage honest and open communication. By addressing the topic in a loving way, you open the door for your child to come to you with any problems regarding the issue in the future.[2] Parents must encourage their child or teen to come to them immediately if anyone approaches them to try any drug, prescription medication, or alcohol. 

The dangers of drugs and alcohol should be a recurring conversation a parent has with their child at any age. After all, the pressures to experiment will likely only increase over time, so a parent must be proactive about preventing adolescent substance abuse.

Confronting an Addicted Child

Unfortunately, there are children or teenagers who do reluctantly become addicted to drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication. It’s difficult to help an addicted child. However, it is crucial to first do the necessary research on drug or alcohol addiction including considering possible rehabilitation prior to having any discussion with your child or teen.  It may be necessary to have an intervention with them if they avoid getting help. 

Since substance abuse is such a delicate issue, people may rebel or get angry, insisting they do not have a problem. As a result, it is best to seek professional help or guidance from an addiction interventionist. A parent can even arrange for their child or teen to be seen and properly diagnosed by a professional drug or alcohol counseling or rehabilitation center. The more prepared and educated a parent is on addiction, the more likely a child or teen will be willing to commit to change and get the appropriate help they need.

Treatment for Adolescent Substance Abuse

Once the decision is made that a child or teen seeks help through family therapy or a drug and alcohol treatment or rehabilitation center, he or she will receive not only the necessary help to overcome their addiction but will be educated on recovery after addiction. Adolescent substance abuse treatment will teach young people the necessary tools to overcome addiction. This includes having healthier coping skills, relationships, and overall lifestyle.  

Adolescent substance abuse treatment involves ongoing therapy, joining a support group, or perhaps a 12-step program. Aftercare and support groups play a very important role in helping a child or teen to engage in a complete transformation and to learn how to live a life free from the bondage of addiction.

Parents can start teaching their children at an early age about the dangers of adolescent substance abuse and how it can lead to addiction. If a child or teen becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, there is help available. It is important for parents to take a proactive approach in teaching their children about drug and alcohol abuse and not delay in the process of getting their child or teen the help they need and deserve should they suffer from substance abuse or addiction. Contact us today to learn about adolescent substance abuse treatment options. 



Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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