Addiction has become an epidemic among teenagers. As the increasing pressures of physical, social, and educational development bear down upon them, they find solace in drugs and alcohol. Some teens are able to navigate these pressures especially well and indulge infrequently, if at all, in mind-altering substances. Of the remainder, several fall into addictive behavior patterns, and the pressures of feeding a habit–or habits–combine with those of being an adult and form a wall that teens find impossible to surmount.
Fortunately, resources are available, and many of them start in the home. If your teen has become addicted to drugs and alcohol, you are their liaison. Here are five things that you can do to help your drug addicted teen:
Demonstrate Your Ability To Listen
It may be very difficult to see things from your teenager’s perspective, but when it comes to guiding an addicted teen toward eventual recovery, it is important to demonstrate your willingness to listen, even if you don’t “get it.” Your teen has relied on you to help him navigate every other problem in their life. This problem, however grave, is no exception to the rule. There should be no question in your teen’s mind that he can depend on you for support.
Have Information Ready
Information will do more to ease your teen’s anxieties than your support alone. Addiction is accompanied by an altered sense of perspective in the mind of the user. Old rules no longer apply. In a world where uncertainty has become the norm, it can come off as extremely rejuvenating to your teen to see that her particular problem has been well documented and that help is available.
Do Not Force Treatment
If your addicted teen has not yet come of age, you do not need a court order to force his hand with respect to drug rehabilitation services. However, forcing your teen into rehab could sabotage any progress that you’ve made in terms of presenting yourself as someone that he can trust implicitly.
One unfortunate fact of drug rehabilitation programs is that they do not work if treatment isn’t voluntary. Present the option of in-patient treatment to your teen. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages. If your teen expresses reservations, listen. The more you can get your teen to communicate his reservations with you, the better your chances are that you may come to a compromise.
Consider Approaching Your Teen’s Friends
Addiction infiltrates all areas of your teen’s life. If your teen is unwilling to listen to you, it may be helpful to reach out to her friends. Addicts tend not to keep sober company. It makes them uncomfortable, but at this point, one of your teen’s sober friends may have already reached out to you to offer support. Collaborate with friends on the best way to compel treatment, or at least enough sobriety in your teen to broach the subject without raising alarm. The continued secret collaboration will give you insight as to how your teen responds to their impulses when they don’t know they are being monitored.
Enlist the Collaboration Of Someone In Recovery
Many interventions start in the home. If no one in your family or your circle of friends has recovered from alcohol or drug addiction, there is apt to be someone in your extended network who has. It helps if this person has a level of familiarity with your teen, as long as your teen has not expressed resentment against the individual. Approach him and ask him to speak with your teen. If he has many years of sobriety under his belt, it is likely that he will have experience in communicating with addicted individuals and quickly winning their favor.
If your teen does not wish to meet with the individual, do not force the engagement. Instead, inform your teen that the individual has agreed to speak with him and that your involvement in their interaction can be as limited as your teen deems appropriate for his comfort level. At this juncture, it is important to distance yourself from their interaction as much as possible. The chances are great that the individual can be of far greater service to your teen simply for the fact that they share a commonality.
Ultimately, your ability to help your addicted teen is determined by your ability to present your case appropriately. Having the information about your teen’s addiction on hand, presenting yourself as a fixture of support, collaborating with teen’s friends and enlisting the help of someone who has recovered from drug or alcohol addiction can help your teen make the necessary steps toward achieving and maintaining his sobriety.