Do you think that your teen is addicted to drugs? A substance addiction in a teenager is overwhelming for the entire family and you might not know where to begin. You might not know whether your teen needs help to begin with, how you will convince him or her to get help, where to find a reputable treatment center, or what to expect during and after treatment. Here’s a guide to what you need to know teen drug addiction treatment.
Signs That Your Teen Needs Drug Addiction Treatment
Many teens will experiment occasionally with drugs or alcohol. How can you determine whether their use is a one-time or occasional event, an addiction in the making, or a full-blown addiction? First, it’s important to keep in mind that experimentation is not harmless; if your teen is in this phase of drug use, set strong boundaries and consequences.
Here are some signs that your teen’s occasional experimentation might be turning into an addiction:
- Lying to cover up where he or she has been or what they’ve been doing.
- Dropping one friend group and associating with peers who are known to be into drinking and drugs.
- A disheveled appearance: poor hygiene, not caring about hair or makeup, wearing the same clothes for several days in a row.
- Slipping grades.
- A loss of interest in keeping up with friends, extracurricular activities, and an afterschool job.
- Coming home under the influence or not coming home at all.
- Disruptive, destructive, rude behavior. Your teen might show a lot of anger or become violent.
If you notice these signs, an evaluation for a drug addiction is likely in order.
Convincing Your Teen That Treatment Is Needed
One common attitude among teens who have an addiction is, “I don’t need help.” There are several reasons for this:
- Your teen might think he or she can simply stop whenever they want to
- They might be embarrassed
- They might have no desire to stop
Although you can assert your authority and insist that your underaged teen get help, he or she is the one who will need to accept the help and do the work of recovering.
Talk to your teen lovingly and without judgment, but let them know that drug use is not going to be tolerated. Since many teens won’t listen to their parents, you might want to bring in another adult who your teen trusts. Have a heart-to-heart conversation and hear out your teen’s objections to starting rehab. You can address each of his or her concerns as they come up. Talking to a substance abuse counselor about these issues can also help set your teen’s mind at ease about the process.
Where to Start in Finding Teen Drug Addiction Treatment
If you suspect that your teen has an addiction, going to his or her primary care physician, preferably one who your child has been seeing for at least a few years and has built up a relationship with, can be the best first step. This doctor can screen your adolescent for an addiction and make suggestions as to where you should go to pursue teen drug addiction treatment. Your teen’s primary care physician might have to handle the referral process, depending on how your health insurance works.
Other sources of recommendations can come from other parents who have already been down this path. You could try asking at a local support group for parents of addicted teens. Your health insurance company will also have a list of programs that they participate with. You can start with that list and narrow it down from there.
What to Expect During Treatment
Your teen will likely be apprehensive about treatment, so it can be beneficial to do some research so you know what to expect. The teen drug addiction treatment center you choose will be the best source of information on what he or she can expect on a day-to-day basis. In general, though, there will be some individual therapy, some group therapy, a support group, and various activities.
As a parent, it’s important for you to know what to expect, too. It’s likely that you will not be able to contact your teen for a specified period of time. He or she might not be able to use a cellphone for some or all of their time in rehab. Talk to the staff about when you can receive updates and when you will be able to contact and visit your child.
What to Expect After Treatment
When your teen comes out of rehab, his or her recovery is not over. Keep in mind that recovering from a drug addiction is a lifelong process. After the intensive phase of treatment is over, your teen will still need to attend counseling and a support group. These forms of continued teen drug addiction treatment are essential to help prevent a relapse.
A relapse happens to a majority of recovering addicts. It doesn’t mean that the treatment has failed; for many people, it’s just part of the process. You should be aware of the signs of a relapse (they are mostly the same as the signs of addiction that you noticed in the first place). You should also know that your teen needs to find a new group of friends and new activities to fill his or her time. A bored recovering teen is susceptible to a relapse, so get your teen involved in activities and with people who will support them in their journey.
During all of this, it’s helpful if you can join a support group for parents and loved ones of addicts. The rehab center should be able to refer you to a group. It’s difficult, frustrating, and scary to have someone you love, particularly your child, affected by a drug addiction, and it’s helpful to talk to other parents who have walked down the road already. As time passes, you’ll be an encouragement to those who are beginning the process with their own teenagers. Seeking the help you need is a great way to set a good example for your teen and the rest of your family.
Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.