How to Talk Yourself Into Helping Your Teen
Get Addiction Treatment for Drugs or Alcohol
Do you suspect that your child is a drug addict or alcoholic? Maybe you want to believe him when he tells you he can quit any time on his own. She may be right when she says it's just a beer and everyone does it. Your teen keeps promising you that he will give up destructive friendships and make grades at school. It is entirely natural that you want to believe that as long as possible.
If you are like most parents, you will go along with your child until the substance abuse reaches a crisis such as a car accident, an unplanned pregnancy, or police involvement. Many parents allow excuses to continue until their teenagers flunk out of college, sink into the street drug sub-culture, or become full-fledged alcoholics.
According to a 2005 study by the National Center on Addiction and Alcohol Abuse at Columbia University, most chronic alcoholism begins in the early or middle teenage years, and progresses until about age thirty, when the young adult finally enters addiction treatment. Had the addiction treatment begun earlier, the chances of recovery would be much greater.
Right now, it may help you to think of your child's problem as a no-fault, physical disease. If your child had a broken leg, you would not hesitate to go to a doctor and get it set. Right now your child needs medical help for addiction, a disease that can progress into the physical deterioration of his body, cause permanent damage to his brain and other organs, and ultimately, if left untreated, result in death.
The paradox is that teenagers do not understand or care about such risks to their health or psyche. They are still in many ways like small children who live in the moment. In fact, a good part of teen addiction treatment will be educating your child to understand the physical effects of his or her disease.
The National Resource Center can help.
Call Toll-Free: 866.870.4979
Addiction is a disease that needs medical treatment for these reasons.
- Alcohol and drug abuse can delay the onset of puberty and cause abnormalities in the reproductive system.
- Addiction creates changes in the body that makes the addict crave the substance. Although many teens believe they can quit on their own, these "homemade" recoveries usually do not last very long.
- Substance abuse is linked to academic failure.
- Some drugs like cocaine can cause panic attacks, seizures, and even psychosis. Ecstasy is linked to liver and heart failure; LSD and PCP can cause permanent memory loss and "flashbacks".
- The human brain does not fully form until age twenty. Teens who drink too much experience permanent damage to their brains and memory loss.
- Alcohol can damage the stomach lining and cause ulcers.
- Alcohol is linked to cancer of the mouth and esophagus.
- Alcohol can cause fatal liver damage.
- Because teens who abuse alcohol and drugs do not care about their health, their health habits are often poor across the board. They don't eat properly, get enough sleep or otherwise take care of themselves. Poor nutrition retards muscle and bone growth.
- Drug or alcohol abuse puts your teen at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancy, and automobile accidents.
- Substance abuse can be a way of self-medicating emotional problems like depression and low self-esteem that need treatment as mental health issues.
- Street drugs are impure and unregulated. They often contain substances that are poisonous or damaging to the body.
- Fatal overdoses are common when teens mix substances or take drugs they do not understand.
- Substance abuse does not go away or get better on its own. It tends to progress as the addict develops more physical tolerance to the substance of choice.
The good news is that addiction treatment works, especially if your teenager remains for the duration of the treatment. There are exciting new approaches such as wilderness and animal therapy, helping them achieve academic success with individualized learning techniques, new drug therapies, sophisticated counseling methods, and family involvement. Research shows that teenagers respond almost as well to court-ordered or parent-ordered addiction treatment as they do had they entered on their own.
There is hope. Your child can and will get better. Your teen can grow up to lead a full productive life with all the freedom and joy that living without drugs or alcohol dependence can bring.