Addiction is a chronic disease that does not discriminate against someone based on their gender, race, height, weight, or age. Unfortunately, anyone is prone to becoming addicted to substances.
While some may be more vulnerable to becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol than others based on genetics and other factors, using drugs or alcohol frequently can eventually lead down a path toward despair.
Teenagers can be especially at risk due to their natural curiosity about the world, and their desire to experiment and earn respect in the eyes of their peers.
Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are the most commonly used substances by teens, and that is typical because of the easy accessibility. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by 12th grade states about two-thirds of students have tried alcohol. Although it’s illegal to purchase alcohol under the age of 21, people from 12 to 20 consume about one-tenth of alcohol consumed in the United States.
In addition to alcohol, the current state of affairs regarding the opioid crisis, the CDC also shows that two in 10 reported using prescription medicine without a prescription.
The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey relays that among high school students: 30 percent drank some amount of alcohol, 14 percent binge drank, six percent drove after drinking alcohol, and 17 percent rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
Consequences of substance abuse or alcohol consumption among those underage can lead to:
- School problems, such as failing grades or lower attendance levels
- Social problems, such as lack of participation in youth activities or fighting
- Legal problems, such as drunk driving
- Physical problems, such as illnesses or hangovers
- Increased risk of suicide or homicide
- Physical or sexual assaults
- Abuse of other drugs
- Changes in brain development
How to Know if My Teen Has a Substance Use Disorder?
If your teenager starts behaving differently for no reason by acting withdrawn, showing signs of depression, exhaustion, or hostility, it could be a sign that they are developing a drug or alcohol-related issue. It’s common for parents to overlook these signs and believe they are growing pains or normal emotions during puberty, but they can be indicators to something more serious. Other signs parents should look for include:
- Poor grooming habits
- Changes within peer groups
- Declining grades
- Ditching school
- Losing interest in their favorite activities
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Friction in relationships with family members or friends
While some parents may not want to be intrusive in their teenager’s life, it’s imperative that they monitor their lives. Decisions they make while they’re young can leave a lasting impression. The teen brain is still developing and teens are vulnerable to changes in the brain that makes them more prone to abusing harder drugs.
If your teenager has demonstrated any of the above unusual behavior, it may be time to sit down and talk with them about what is going on in their life. It can’t be stressed enough about the challenges they will face later on in life if it is not dealt with in a timely manner. Let’s take a look at what it takes to find a rehab for your teenager.
How to Find a Rehab for Your Teenager
Asking for help from a professional is a crucial starting point. You must bring your teenager to a specialist that can screen for signs of drug use and other health-related problems. You should ask the doctor in advance to determine if they are comfortable screening for drug use with standard assessment tools. If they are not, you must find another specialist skilled on this topic.
As a parent, you have the ability to reach out to an addiction specialist directly. There are 3,500 board-certified physicians whose primary focus is treating addiction in the United States. The American Society of Addiction Medicine has a Find a Physician website on the homepage.
It takes courage to find help for a teenager with a potential drug problem. There is a lot of work ahead for both the parent(s) and teenager, and it can interrupt personal, academic, or athletic engagements that are vital during the teenage years. Treatment enables young individuals to counteract addiction’s powerful effects in their brain and behavior so that they can regain control of their lives. Your teen must be healthy before entering into the world of independence, which is where drugs are more readily offered..
What Type of Screening Will the Doctor Do?
The physician will ask the teenager a series of questions pertaining to alcohol or drug use. They will also ask about associated risk behaviors, such as driving under the influence or riding with other drivers who have been using drugs or alcohol. The physician could also request a blood or urine sample that identifies the drugs the teen is abusing. The assessment will determine the extent of drug use and whether a referral to a treatment program is the right choice.