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Author: Justin Mckibben
Part of being a parent is wondering what trouble your kids might get into. This is especially true as children become more independent as teens and young adults. Parents worry about how their kids are doing in school, if they are surrounding themselves with good influences and of course, if they’re doing drugs. It seems like there has never been a more appropriate time to be concerned about teenage substance abuse. Parents today are witness to the devastation and despair caused by the opioid epidemic. While teen drug use has always been an issue, it is more frightening than previous years with overdose deaths at such an alarming rate. What are the signs? How serious is teen drug abuse? Is your adolescent addicted to drugs?
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Teen Drug Abuse Stats
It is not that shocking that teen drug abuse is such a concern for parents. Substance use disorder currently affects more than 20 million people in the United States.
In 2015, more than 33,000 people in the United States died from accidental overdose. According to the 2015 Monitoring the Future College Students and Adults survey, young adults from 18-25 are the biggest abusers of:
The survey also shows young adults use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons more than any other age group. One report showed that nearly 44% of high school students admit to knowing a classmate who sells drugs. When ask what kind of drugs, students stated:
- 91%- Marijuana
- 24%- Prescription drugs
- 9%- Cocaine
- 7%- Ecstasy
Experts from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) state that while illicit substance abuse has shown some decline, prescription drug abuse has done more than enough to fill the void.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Those at Risk
If there is one thing we have learned without question from the opioid epidemic, it is that the old archaic mentality that substance use disorders were only experienced by people living troubled lives is anything but true.
Anyone and everyone are at risk. No race, nationality, social or economic background can exempt someone from the potential for addiction, even teenagers. It doesn’t matter if you grow up in a small town, a suburb or a bad part of town. It doesn’t matter if you are homeless or if you inherit a fortune, you still are eligible for addiction.
In a way, that reality makes the prospect of your teenager getting mixed up in drugs more frightening, because the old mentality of “don’t hang out with the wrong crowd” doesn’t really apply anymore. Any crowd and every crowd can get mixed up in this.
Truthfully, teens are exposed to substances in so many ways, but there are also a lot of ways to spot use and try to address it as early as possible.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Warning Signs
Knowing the warning signs of addiction can save lives, and ensuring it is addressed through every possible channel is key—even at a yearly doctor’s appointment. Many doctors are being trained to identify the signs of early drug abuse and ask questions about substance use disorders. When you are still wondering- is my teenager addicted to drugs- then you can try to look at signs such as:
- Mood swings
- Changes in grades
- Lack of interest in activities
- Trouble at school or work
- Changes in friends
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms, including shaking, seizures, personality changes
- Hiding drug use
- Using substances in private
According to mental health experts, some of these symptoms can also be signs of a mental health disorder. The best course of action when a parent begins to detect some of these signs would be to have a conversation with their teenager. Having a dialog can create opportunities for education, prevention and intervention.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Helping VS Hurting
If your teenager is struggling with a substance use disorder there are a number of things you can do to help. There are also some things that parents institutionally do that can ultimately be harmful. Family members are always used to playing different roles, and often times parents want to be as supportive as possible. The important distinction family members all need to learn is the difference between helping and hurting.
As parents people typically lean toward one side or the other. They either want to be protective and enabling, or they chose to use ‘tough love’ to try and force their family members to get clean.
To learn more about how to handle the difficult emotions and situations parents and family members face with an addicted loved one, download our FREE e-book
“What is the Difference Between Helping and Hurting”
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It is important to be compassionate and supportive. It is also important to set boundaries with your addicted teenager. Understanding the self-destructive behaviors of individuals who struggle with addiction will help you to avoid enabling those risk patterns. This knowledge also helps parents and families members to be more constructive and caring when it really matters.
Addiction doesn’t just affect the person who is drinking or drugging, it affects all those that are close to that person. Emotionally, physically, financially, the toll can be significant. The Family Program at Palm Partners is designed to help parents, significant others and family members of addicts. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now!
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Denial not only affects the person with the addiction problem, it also affects those around them and, especially the addict’s parents. Even when the signs become impossible to ignore, no parent wants to admit that their child is an addict. The sooner you are willing to see what’s really going on, though, the sooner you can learn ways to cope. Here are 4 hard truths only parents of addicts understand.
#1. Parents Are Enablers
As parents, you only want what’s best for your children. And all through raising them, you were their #1 fan, cheerleader, and advocate – no doubt. But, although they’re still your children, they are also addicts. This is a game-changer. You don’t want to see your child struggling to eat or afford other basic needs but, by giving them money or allowing them to live with you, you are their enabler. What this means is that you will only prolong their drug use. They may never want to get clean but, as long as you’re footing their bills, they certainly have no motivation to even consider that their life has become unmanageable and perhaps might want to do something about it. Think of it like this, when you enable your addicted child, you are actually loving them to death. This sounds harsh but, it’s true. By feeding their habit, directly or indirectly, you enable them to continue using and, with every use there is risk.
#2. Parents Can’t “Fix” Their Children
Yes, treatment can be effective but there is no “cure” for addiction. You can send them to rehab but, unless they are willing to change, treatment might not “work” the first, second, eighth time around. This can certainly be frustrating, expensive, and crushing for a parent to deal with. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but, addiction is a chronic, progressive, relapsing disease. That means that your child might do well for a time and then might backslide. They might bounce right back or they might stay “out” for several years before trying to get clean again. There’s no guarantee for treatment and recovery.
#3. Your Child is a Liar and Maybe Even a Criminal
Another hard truth about being the parent of an addict is that your child is definitely a liar and even possibly a criminal. It doesn’t matter that you “raised ‘em right.” The bottom line is that drug addiction is a desperate and ugly disease that will have us do whatever it takes to support our habit. I come from a two-parent, middle-class household and I graduated college with two degrees. In the height of my active addiction, I had committed not only misdemeanors but also felony offenses. It certainly didn’t feel good doing those things but, I was so very desperate that I felt I had no other choice.
#4. You’re Dealing with Both a Child and an Adult
Although adults, your addicts are likely to think and act like children a lot of the time. It is said that drug use arrests the emotional maturity level of the addict at the age they began their drug use. So, for example, your addicted son or daughter might be 25 years old but, they started using drugs at 14 years old so, in many ways, they still think and act like that 14-year-old. This can be a very difficult concept to understand. Our world recognizes chronological age, not maturity level and, as the parent, you have to be able to do that, too. An addict can only operate in the “here and now” with no real reflection on the past nor any goals or dreams for the future. As the parent of an addict, you have to be able to see things in this way, too.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
For Part One, Click Here.
Many of the items that you may not realize are drug paraphernalia are in your house right now. Don’t worry though because they are in mine too. The only difference between everyday items being just that, everyday items and drug paraphernalia, is the person who is using drugs. This is the second installment of Everyday Items You May Not Realize are Drug Paraphernalia because there are so many common items that can be used as drug paraphernalia and if you know what to look for you may be able to spot drug abuse in your household before it is too late.
Plates: Plates are an everyday item that everyone has in their house which may be why they are so commonly used by people who are also doing drugs. Plates are a part of drug paraphernalia for someone who is snorting drugs. Drugs that can be snorted are anything that comes in a powdered form such as cocaine or that can be crushed down into powdered form; such as pills. Plates are used as a steady hard surface on which to crush or chop up the substance so it can be snorted. Plates also keep the drugs in one contained area so the person using doesn’t have to worry about losing any of it.
Pacifiers and Lollipops: Pacifiers and lollipops may seem totally harmless but anyone who is not an infant and is using a pacifier may be using ecstasy. One of the main symptoms of ecstasy use is bruxism (grinding teeth). Kids who use ecstasy often will sometimes have pacifiers or lollipops with them to keep them from grinding their teeth down. Instead, these ecstasy or “rave kids” will chew on their pacifiers or suck on lollipops while high.
Razor blades: Razor blades are a more common part of drug paraphernalia that you may not realize are. Usually if you find razor blades you will also be finding plates too which we mentioned earlier. This is because razors are used to chop up powdered drugs into a fine dust that can be snorted. Razors are also used to separate the drugs into “lines” which can be snorted in small amounts. Razor blades are the drug paraphernalia most associated with cocaine and pills.
Water bottles: Water bottles can literally be containers for just about anything and they aren’t always holding water. Water bottles as drug paraphernalia are used to house everything liquid including alcohol and GHB. Water bottles are a great way for kids to hide their drugs because they do look so inconspicuous, also they can carry around their drugs with them, drinking them, and you the parent would have no idea. Pay attention. If your child always has a water bottle with them and their behavior has changed it may be safe to check out what its contents are.
Glow sticks: Glow sticks are fun and are becoming more and more a part of today’s younger generation. You also will find glow sticks on Halloween and other party days such as New Year’s Eve. But if you’re child has glow sticks all the time and maybe they are with a pacifier, it may be sign of ecstasy use or the use of hallucinogens. Hallucinogens or psychedelics as well as club drugs such as ecstasy heighten the effects of glow sticks and are a huge part of the rave scene. Glow sticks and pacifiers used to be the classic signs of ecstasy use and still are.
Remember many of these everyday items that you may not realize are drug paraphernalia should be noticed but what is more important is that you also notice your child’s behavior along with the items. The behavior usually comes first and then you will start to notice the drug paraphernalia all around you.
For more information about drug paraphernalia, check out Part One of this Series or our Parent’s Guide to Drug Abuse: Drug Paraphernalia.
If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
One of the toughest things about being a parent to an addict and alcoholic is knowing when and how to let go. Parents may know intellectually that they cannot “save” their child or love them back to health, but it’s very hard to put this into practice. Ignoring your child’s call, refusing to give them money, or letting them sleep through their alarm can feel very heartless. Parents want to help. They want to make things better. In the process, they often make things worse.
Letting go does not mean that you do not love your child. Letting go does not mean giving up. It simply means that you love them too much to continue to support their self-destructive behavior.
Mom (Dad) It’s Okay to Let Go: Tips
Here are some helpful tips to remember when you have a child struggling with addiction:
1. Covering up an addiction is not the way to deal with it: Ignoring your child’s drug use, covering for them when they miss work or school, or making excuses for them with friends and family does absolutely nothing to help your child.
2. You must allow your child to find recovery on their terms: Sometimes finding recovery means dealing with intense negative consequences in an already chaotic life. Some addicts may have to lose their jobs, homes, or freedom before they commit to a change.
3. You cannot do it for them: Dragging your child to an NA or AA meeting is futile if they do not want to go. They have to want recovery as badly as they wanted drugs and alcohol and take the action to get it without your help.
4. Don’t love your child to death: Giving your child money or letting him or her move back into your house may seem like a loving choice. In the end though, enabling will just deter potential recovery.
Mom (Dad) It’s Okay to Let Go: Practicing loving detachment
Here’s a little story that may help you understand loving detachment vs. ignoring a situation
You are driving down the street in your car and you see two men fighting on the street. If you were to ignore the problem and kept on driving and did nothing, you would be turning away and pretending you saw nothing. Of course it would not be smart or helpful to jump into the middle of the fight, get hurt yourself, so that no one else got hurt. You could call the police or someone who could break up the fight – That is the smart thing to do.
Letting go comes after we have already done all we could to try to help. We have seen there is a problem and we offer help. We let our loved one know we will be there if they want to get help. Letting go is not ignoring the problem, it is realizing that there is nothing more we can do. Once an addict or alcoholic wants help, we will be there for them, but until that time, the most loving thing we can do is to detach.
If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction please give us a call at 800-951-6135.