Did you know that an estimated 50% of teenagers have misused drugs at least once? While one-time drug use may not be a cause for concern, it’s possible for it to turn into a serious drug addiction.
But what do you do if your teen is struggling with addiction? How do you notice the signs that they need addiction counseling?
We want to help guide you. Read on to learn all about teen drug abuse and counseling so you can make an informed choice about your child’s mental healthcare.
Identifying When Your Teen Needs Addiction Counseling
Unfortunately, many parents don’t know how to spot the signs of teen drug abuse. Even attentive parents can miss early warning signs that could have helped them seek treatment or counseling for their children before the situation got out of hand.
Some signs that a teenager is abusing drugs are similar (or even identical) to the symptoms of, well, being a teenager. Teenagers by default have frequent mood and personality changes, meaning that it’s difficult to spot when something is actually amiss.
So what are some common signs?
First, those aforementioned mood and personality changes could be the result of teen drug abuse. If your teenager is showing more anxiety, depression, or irritability, it’s something to look out for.
If your child has abandoned a long-term friend group for new friends, it may be a normal part of growing up, but it could also be a sign that they’re abusing drugs.
Teenagers who start to struggle in school after being otherwise successful may be dealing with an addiction to drugs. These teens may also stop doing their favorite extra-curricular activities.
Teens who abuse drugs may be more fatigued than normal.
Finally, if your teen is misbehaving more often, they may be displaying signs of teen drug abuse. If they’re lying, stealing, cheating in school, or breaking curfew, something isn’t right.
What are the Benefits of Addiction Counseling for Teenagers?
So you’ve identified that your child has a problem. How are you going to handle it?
Some parents prefer the punishment approach. They choose to ground their children and restrict their behavior to prevent them from doing drugs. This isn’t an effective method.
Teens are still going to have access to drugs if they want them when they go to school or in their extra-curriculars. Such tight restrictions can also cause children to rebel (which will make the problem worse).
This is where addiction counseling for teenagers comes into play. Here are a few benefits that you can expect when you bring your child to counseling.
A Neutral Party
Teenagers may feel too uncomfortable talking to their parents or guardians about their drug abuse, even if they know that they have a problem. They may be afraid of judgment or punishment, or they might feel ashamed.
They may also feel as though their guardians are simply trying to “ruin their fun.”
When you bring your teenager to counseling, you’re exposing them to a neutral third party. They don’t have any former connection to the new counselor, so there’s no reason for them to think that the counselor has any type of bias against them. They may feel more comfortable speaking with them as a result.
An Extra Pillar of Support
Teens who are struggling with substance abuse need extra support; they just don’t know it yet. Even if you try to be supportive at home, it may not be enough.
Adding a professional counselor into the mix takes some of the weight off of the parents and ensures that the child has someone to talk to who cares about their wellbeing.
Improved Addiction Recovery Outcomes
It is possible for people to recover from drug addiction without professional treatment, but it’s more difficult. Teens have the added complication of already struggling with hormonal shifts, developing brains, and the stressors that come alongside being in high school.
Drug addiction counseling may be the difference between a straightforward recovery process and an intense struggle.
How Substance Abuse Counseling for Teenagers Works
So what can you expect from substance abuse counseling?
At Marin Family Recovery, we take a gentle approach to teen counseling. We understand that teenagers are naturally vying for independence and won’t respond well to restrictive routines or demands.
We encourage that independence and foster it by guiding teens onto the right path, but not forging it for them. We give teenagers the resources that they need to better their own situations so they have lifelong tools.
Teenagers will work together with our therapists to create treatment plans that work for them. Therapists will make an active effort to understand the underlying cause of the teen’s addiction instead of just treating the symptoms (the addiction itself).
Supporting a Child When They’re in Counseling
As a guardian of the teenager, you play an important supportive role. Yes, the counselor will do a lot of the “heavy lifting,” but you’re responsible for your teen’s recovery while they’re at home.
Make sure that you maintain an “open-door policy” with your teenager. You want to create an open and judgment-free space where your teen can feel comfortable talking to you about their struggles without fearing punishment.
Talk to the counselor about coping mechanisms that they’re teaching your teen and continue encouraging them at home.
Try getting your teenager involved in healthy and social activities in safe environments. Physical activity is great for teenagers who are struggling with their mental health, so sports teams or even casual physical activities (like community dance classes) are perfect for this.
Consider giving your child an artistic outlet. Sign them up for an art class or give them access to art supplies.
Does Your Teen Need Addiction Counseling?
No parent wants to admit that their child has a drug or alcohol problem, but admitting it is the first step toward recovery. If your teenager is struggling, it’s time to seek addiction counseling.
At Marin Family Recovery, we want to offer that help. Alongside marriage counseling and couple’s therapy, we offer counseling to teenagers who are struggling with their mental health (through addiction or otherwise).
Contact us to set up an appointment today.