If you suspect your teen is doing any form of gateway drug, it’s important to talk to them about it as soon as possible. Again, it is important to not yell or threaten. You will no doubt be scared and angry, but so is your teen. If they feel as though you don’t support them or they can’t talk to you, scaring them will only make the problem worse! Try to remain calm.
Assure your teen they can trust you and that you love them and want to help them. Explain harmful side effects of drugs, but assure them it’s not too late to get help, and that you will support them. Tell them about any changes you’ve noticed in their behavior and how those changes make you feel. Let them talk to you, and listen to them. Do not judge them or criticize them.
The first you need to do in order to prevent your teen from abusing drugs, alcohol or tobacco is to take seriously the threat posed by these substances to your child. You have to take seriously the risks posed because this will ultimately be the one catalyst that will allow you to talk to your teen about the problem in a frank and open manner. By taking to heart the importance of the matter at hand, you will be in a better position to urge your teen to do the same. You do not need to be harsh or judgmental with them. It is a better strategy to be as supportive as you can. If you insist on being hostile and angry with your teen, you will likely succeed in pushing them away form you and deeper into possible addiction.
Any treatment plan you decide upon for your teen should be dictated by the substances they abuse and how much they abuse them. For example, to send a child to a strict military-style school because they have tried drugs or alcohol a handful of times is something of an overreaction. Many times if a teen’s experiments with drugs, alcohol and tobacco are minor, a good open talk with them can convey all the information you want, and achieve very positive results in terms of future behavior.
Of course, the story is entirely different if your teen has become addicted to drugs and alcohol. In this instance, a detoxification program may be in order, along with a treatment regimen that helps wean the child off of drugs and replaces that with medicine. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of prescription medicine treatment for substance abuse is greatly enhanced when combined with one-on-one and/or family counseling.
One thing to remember if treatment becomes the order for the day when addressing your child’s substance issues is that relapse after treatment is common. This does not mean that you or your teen have failed any part of the recovery process. Addiction is extremely difficult to overcome and the most important thing to keep in mind is to take things one step at a time.
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