Teenage drug use, no matter its extent, should be of major concern for parents today. While it is true that oftentimes, the experimentation phase of adolescence is inevitable, it should never be something to turn your cheek to. No matter who or where you are, no matter your age, you are using drugs and alcohol, you are at risk of addiction.
This is especially true for adolescents. 1 in 4 Americans who begin using drugs or alcohol before the age of 18 will develop an addiction later in life. If you believe your son is using drugs, and you are concerned about his use, know that you are not alone and that taking action is the best thing you can do. As soon as you realize your son is using drugs or drinking underage, or that your instinct is telling you so, it is time for you to intervene.
An intervention is a conversation, not a confrontation. It does not always have to result in punishment or even rehab for your son right away. Rather, an intervention should be approached as a level-headed discussion, in which you, the parent, express your concern about your teen’s drug use.
If you recently caught your teen using drugs, or simply have a feeling that he may be, you will need to start preparing your next steps. To help prepare you for a teen intervention, Turnbridge has compiled five key tips to help guide you into and through this breakthrough conversation:
- Build your case: The best way to dive into a conversation with your teen is to prepare your grounds and establish the point you want to make. What is the reason for this intervention? Why are you addressing this concern now? Being at his age, your adolescent may be defensive or may not want to open up on the subject. He may believe in his mind that there is no problem at all, and will not give you the entire truth as a result. He may try to talk his way out of it.
If you suspect that your teen is drinking or using drugs, looking for the warning signs of drug addiction and symptoms of teen drug use before the intervention will make the conversation hold more weight—in your mind and in your teen’s. Take note of your teen’s suspicious behaviors: How often does he break curfew? When did his grades start to drop? How much alcohol is missing from your liquor cabinet? How many pills off is your prescription bottle? Did you find evidence of drug use in his room or his car? By having your story straight, you will be more likely to get a straight story out of your teen.
- Prepare your reaction, and prepare for your child’s: If you discovered your child is using drugs, your preliminary reaction may tell you to be angry, and to initiate the conversation right away. Because adolescents are at a sensitive age, teen intervention must be approached differently in order to get a point across. You want the conversation to have flow, and you do not want to give your teen the opportunity to walk out in the middle of it.
To do so, it’s helpful to focus on how drug use is affecting your child—rather than your family. Your main goal through this intervention is to keep your child safe. To do this, you will need to create a safe environment for your teen to confess his habits, and a quiet place for you to listen. This is not only about having your child listen to you, but also about you listening to him.
Your teen will not be happy that you are approaching him about his drug use, and will likely become defensive in the beginning stages of the intervention. He may call you a liar, or a hypocrite because of your past behaviors. He may lie himself, or come back at you with accusatory questions, such as “Why are you going through my stuff?” This kind of remark should be expected, but can stump you if you are not prepared. Make a list of possible reactions your teen may have, and think of your responses. Remember to stay focused on your end goal—to stay focused on your teen’s drug use and his health—and do whatever you can to keep the conversation moving forward.
- Prepare for the conversation: Your teen may try to steer the conversation in another direction. In order to gain a foothold, we suggest that parents come up with a readied list of questions to ask their teens before the intervention takes place. As a concerned parent, you likely already have an idea of what you want to ask your teen. A huge question in your mind may be, “Why?” Ask your teen why he likes using drugs, or why he started in the first place. You may want to ask him how often it is that he drinks or uses drugs, and with whom he is using. Try to get a sense for his situation, and to understand it from his perspective. This is an intervention, not a lecture.
- Set a desired outcome and consequences: In order to have a successful teen intervention, you must first establish what a successful intervention would mean to you. What do you want to achieve from this conversation? What limits will you set if this end goal is not achieved.
Make these goals clear to your son and to yourself. Start small-- Do you want your son to stop binge drinking or smoking weed following your conversation? Do you want him to obey curfew, be drug tested, or join an extracurricular program? As he begins to follow these guidelines, you may consider encouraging therapy, or enrolling in a 12-step program, as an end goal.
Adolescents, because of their stage of development, need limits to help guide them in the right direction. By having rules, they can make more practical decisions. Rules will help your child in the long run, not stunt him. By establishing firm consequences, such as grounding if he does not tell the truth, you can show that you are serious about this problem and remind him of what not to do in the future.
- Seek professional help: It takes a lot of courage to seek help for your teen, but as a parent, know that it is your responsibility to keep him out of harm’s way. While treatment may be hard to accommodate at first in those milestone teen years, it will be his best chance of combating drug and alcohol dependence.
More than anyone else, teens can recover from drug addiction. With time, patience, and the proper support, your teen can regain control over his life. Early intervention is key to preventing an addiction, and you can guide him in the right direction. You are his biggest support, so it is in your hands to find him the help he deserves. The sooner you intervene, the more pain and danger you will save him, yourself, and your family in the long run.
An intervention, overall, should address your teen’s drug or alcohol problem, and provide a solution. Many times, addiction rehabilitation for young adults is the best solution. While this may not be on your radar right away, know that with professional guidance and medical treatment, your child can develop healthy coping skills necessary in warding off drug activity in the future. It can help him not only grow away from addiction, but also grow as a young man. We hope that these intervention tips together lead you and your teen towards a happier, healthier lifestyle. For more information on teen drug abuse, or teen rehab programs in CT, call our team at Turnbridge today at 1-877-581-1793.