Have you discovered bottles of alcohol or a bag of drugs in your teenager’s room? Maybe you’ve actually caught them drinking or getting high, or you’ve seen them hungover. Or perhaps, you just have a parent’s intuition and suspect that they’ve gotten mixed up with substance abuse.
No matter how you’ve come to the conclusion that your teenager is using drugs, there’s a lot going through your mind. You don’t understand why your child is using drugs and you’re scared for what could happen to them if they continue down this path. The question now is, what do you do?
Here are 7 steps you should take if you’ve discovered that your teenager is drinking or using drugs.
7 Steps to Take if Your Teenager is Abusing Drugs
1. Don’t Panic.
As difficult as this is, it’s absolutely necessary that you not panic or overreact to your teen’s substance abuse. It’s natural for you to want to immediately confront your child and punish them, but this would only make your teen defensive, stressed out and tempted to drink or use again to try to cope with the shame, guilt and pain they’re probably feeling. If you suspect your teenager is using drugs, take deep breaths and remember that your child needs your help, not your criticism and discipline.
2. Research Teenage Alcohol or Drug Use.
It’s never easy to understand why your child turned to alcohol or drug abuse, and it isn’t like you can physically walk a mile in their shoes to find out. If your teenager is using drugs, turn to experts and other resources to learn about their substance abuse and the potential reasons why they may have fallen victim to addiction in the first place. This knowledge can help you get a better idea of your teenager’s thoughts, feelings and substance use.
3. Gather Evidence.
When you do finally talk to your teenager about their drug use, you should expect them to immediately deny the allegation. This is why you should have evidence ready to go to help support your argument. Show them empty beer bottles or drugs you found in their room, or point to other symptoms like decreased school performance, behavioral problems and drastic physical health changes. This evidence can help you move past the initial confrontation and focus on more productive conversations about why they have been using drugs and what you should do to get them help.
4. Research Addiction in the Family.
Is there a loved one who also struggles with addiction? Maybe there’s an entire history of alcohol or drug addiction in your family. Talking to family members and understanding your family’s medical history can help enlighten you on why your teenager may be suffering from substance abuse. Sharing this information with your teenager may also help ease their feelings of guilt and shame, as they’ll know they aren’t alone in their battle.
5. Talk to Your Teenager.
Once you have enough background information, research and evidence, it’s time to talk to your teenager. It’s important that you approach the conversation calmly and try to catch them during a time when they’re sober and unlikely to be in a combative mood. Expect your child to get upset or even angry during the conversation, but do your best to stay calm and not judge them. Ask them questions about their drug use, share your concerns and let them know that you just want to help them recover and not have to resort to alcohol or drugs to feel good. The more you can empathize with your teenager, the more likely your conversation about their drug use will be successful.
6. See a Doctor with Your Child.
If you’ve successfully talked with your teenager about their drug use, schedule an appointment with their doctor. A doctor can evaluate their physical and mental health and give you recommendations for treatment programs or what you should do next. Your child’s doctor is also another resource your teenager can turn to if they don’t feel as comfortable opening up to you about their struggles.
7. Enroll Your Teenager in a Treatment Center.
Finally, you’ll need to enroll your teenager in an addiction treatment program that can get to the bottom of their addiction and help them recover from substance abuse. Treatment centers like Red Mountain Colorado also specialize in mental health and trauma. In many cases, teenagers turn to drugs because they have suffered some sort of trauma or are struggling with depression, anxiety or ADHD.
Hope is Waiting at Red Mountain Colorado
At Red Mountain Colorado, we take a trauma-specific and meditation-focused approach to addiction and dual diagnosis treatment. This means that your teenager will heal from any trauma they’re suffering from, learn new ways to manage stress and mental health challenges, overcome negative thoughts, feelings and impulsivity, and learn how to live life without alcohol or drugs again.
Contact the Red Mountain Colorado team today to learn more about our treatment approach and how to get your teenager started. Hope is waiting, so talk to our admissions team to get started.