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Teen Substance Abuse and Rehab

Beginning the conversation with your teen about drug use is difficult. If you suspect that your teenager has been using drugs, it is important to address the situation. The earlier drug use begins, the more likely that addiction can develop. Believe it or not, but 90% of addictions begin in adolescence.

This statistic is not meant to scare you, but to make you aware of the danger your teenager is in when it comes to substance abuse. It may be easy for some parents, family members, or friends to write off drug abuse or alcohol consumption as simply a “phase” that children grow out of; however, that approach can be a dangerous one to take.

Instead it is our hop that we can help shine a brighter light on the consequences, effects, and downfalls of teen substance abuse so that you can help your loved one get the help they need. Convincing someone to go to rehab and receive the treatment they need is never easy, but it is very necessary. With our help you can receive the necessary tools to help your teen get into the perfect rehab center and overcome substance abuse before it becomes a serious problem.

Teen Drug Experimentation

Experimentation is quite common among teens. Trying substances for the first time doesn’t seem like such a big deal—everyone else is doing it! This can prove to be especially dangerous, when Adderall prescriptions are at an all-time high, and the gravity of prescription drug abuse is not understood.

Reasons for Drug Abuse

Teens hear about drugs at school. Plenty of examples surround them on TV, in music, in the movies, and on billboards. Trying just once doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Adolescence is characterized by periods of moodiness and depression—teens are going through a big emotional change. Using drugs seems like a logical step in numbing some of the negativity surrounding the transition.

Adolescence is a stressful time, and youth can develop anxiety or depression even before this age. Anxiety and depression leads to higher instances of substance abuse.

Adolescence is a stressful time, and youth can develop anxiety or depression even before this age. Anxiety and depression leads to higher instances of substance abuse.

Abusive, broken, impoverished homes produce substance abuse, especially when a teen does not recognize or understand the consequences of abusing drugs. Moreover, the proximity of an adult or guardian who uses drugs helps to solidify the misconception that casual drug use is not worrisome.

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Signs of Teen Drug Abuse or Addiction

It’s difficult enough to understand the different life changes that are happening to your child throughout adolescence. The addition of drugs or alcohol to the mix complicates the process of adolescence, and can exacerbate mental disorder symptoms.

  • bloodshot eyes
  • avoiding eye contact
  • loss of interest in activities
  • laughing uncontrollably or for no reason
  • smell of smoke or alcohol on clothes or breath
  • secrecy
  • unusual fatigue
  • poor personal hygiene and appearance
  • drop in academic performance or interest

Admitting Drug Abuse or Addiction

Starting a conversation with your child about drugs is the first step toward clearing the air. If you do decide to communicate with your child about substance abuse, beginning the conversation in a calm, tactful way is crucial. If you suspect substance abuse, indicate to your child that you are concerned.

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Communicating With Your Child

Due to the delicacy of the topic, it is important to express understanding. If your teen admits to substance abuse, your following actions are critical. Demonstrate how much you care—about your child’s health, well-being, and future. If your teen feels loved, they are more likely to accept help.

Denying Drug Use

Of course, the chance remains that your teen will deny using drugs or alcohol. Most addicts deny that their substance abuse has devolved into dependence—teens are far less likely to recognize that their use is a problem, or realize the true extent of their substance abuse.

Other medical professionals, such as a therapist or addiction counselor, can help to make the diagnosis of drug addiction.

Commonly Abused Drugs

Informing your child about the following substances will help to prevent potential future abuse.

Teen binge drinking can lead to alcohol abuse—as can binge drinking at any age. Since impulse control is still slowly developing at this age, teens may have more difficulty moderating, which may lead to dependence. Binge drinking (or bingeing on any substance, for that matter) can lead to a higher potential for addiction. However, teens, in particular, are far more at risk of developing alcohol dependence, as they are still developing important behaviors and habits.

Adderall is commonly misconceived as a “study aid,” but improper use of this stimulant can lead to dire health consequences. When an adolescent is prescribed Adderall properly, it produces a sense of calm, eases impatience and discomfort, and helps with focus. When an adolescent takes Adderall without a prescription, it produces an intense, “tunnel-like” focus, and a state of euphoria. This contributes to the misconception that Adderall really helps cognitive ability, when in reality, it does not contribute to intelligence whatsoever, but merely inspires the user to work intensely until they are utterly exhausted.

Beyond adolescence, many college students misuse Adderall, simply because it is so widely available. In 2013, 74% of college students using prescription stimulants improperly obtained the medication from a friend with an authorized prescription. Regardless of the extent of the teen’s use, Adderall can lead to later dependency and addiction.

If misused, Adderall can lead to stimulant dependence. A teen may choose to seek out other street drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, in order to find a stronger high. Stimulants seriously deplete the ability of the brain to produce dopamine.

Dependency can lead to serious health issues, such as:

  • rapid heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • paranoia
  • hostility and violence
  • anxiety and depression

Often viewed as a fun little pill that helps you to relax, Xanax is another popular drug among teens, and easily accessed through a friend’s prescription. Highly addictive, Xanax shows a serious risk for overdose when used improperly.

This pain reliever is often abused for its relaxing properties and long-lasting high.

Commonly abused among teens, marijuana produces a sense of calm and peace—a transitional mood state that is believed to relieve anxiety and stress. However, prolonged Marijuana use can lead to decreased memory, general malaise, and even schizophrenia. While knowledge of the risks continues to decline, general use increases.

Known as “Spice” or “K2,” synthetic marijuana saw a sharp increase in users in 2011—about 12%. Initially thought to only contain herbs and traditional products used in natural medicine, the knowledge of the effects of synthetic marijuana has recently demonstrated serious negative effects.

Recent action to make illegal under state law, or new legislation to ban the sale of synthetic cannabanoids have been established in the states of Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, South Dakota, Indiana, and North Carolina.

However, the tricky legislation surrounding this drug only means that new chemical combinations are constantly being constructed in order to slide by bans in these states.

Psychological dependency may occur as a result of synthetic cannabanoid use, and the drug also contributes to hallucinations, delusion, paranoia, and hostility.

Other commonly abused substances among teens include:

  • Ecstasy
  • Cocaine
  • Inhalants
  • OTC cough medicine
  • Crack
  • Methamphetamine
  • Salvia
  • Bath salts

Negative Consequences of Teen Substance Abuse

While teen experimentation may merely be a phase, and eventually, teens may move away from the people and places that promote substance abuse, it is crucial to address these types of behaviors. Substance abuse may give way too many negative consequences, which include, but are not limited to the following:

A typical recovery process would follow these steps:

  • Greater risk of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar (in some cases, substance abuse can trigger or worsen symptoms)
  • Poor physical health
  • Academic struggles, suspension, or expulsion
  • Legal difficulties
  • Becoming a part of the juvenile court system
  • Broken family ties or destroyed friendships
  • Addiction, or worse, death

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Juvenile Drug Treatments


Talking to your child will help to prevent later substance abuse. If teens are taught about the serious risks associated with casual drug use, they are far less likely to develop substance abuse.

However, research has shown that one in five parents, or 20% have given their teen a non-prescribed prescription drug. Parents are currently not doing enough to assure their children are not at risk for substance abuse, and a child’s perspective of substance abuse is largely shaped by parental influence.

Court System

As a minor, your teen may have a second chance, and the opportunity to expunge their criminal record. Probationary periods often include the opportunity for a blank slate after completion of the program. Contingency management may be ordered, in order to protect against relapse and contribute to a clean record.

What to Expect During/After Rehab

If your child has been diagnosed or has been determined to have a veritable addiction, do not scold or berate your child for their addiction—this will only contribute to a higher rate of relapse.

When you feel that your child is in need of rehabilitation, it is important to consider the different methods of recovery. Luckily, many centers have continued to revolutionize methods for teen rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation Options

Counseling is the most crucial element of teen rehabilitation. Through counseling, the teen will learn how to develop behaviors conducive to maintaining sobriety.

There are many different techniques for developing the tools needed to maintain sobriety, including:

  • Contingency management

    May take place in the form of a voucher program. Teens receive vouchers for progress, and may receive more privileges as a result. This reinforces the idea of recovery as a “reward.”

  • Motivational interviewing

    This involves developing positive motivation, and helps to realize reasons for completing rehabilitation. Contributes to a successful recovery.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    CBT is a technique intended to reformat the negative thought patterns, behaviors and tendencies that contributed to the addiction.

  • Family counseling

    Families can learn to communicate more fluidly and address the elements that may have contributed to the teen’s addiction. This will also assist in tightening family bonds—tools necessary for continued recovery.

The very best treatment center will provide varied forms of treatment. Treating substance abuse with varied methods has proven to be the best strategy of treatment for teens—each teen is different in their needs. At times, underlying disorders, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, may be discovered in therapy. It is crucial a teenager stays in recovery for as long as possible, so as to address all the issues at hand, and to prevent future relapse.

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How to Avoid Relapse

Being an active presence in your child’s recovery will lead to higher success rates. Furthermore, your child’s association with other sober teens will help to prevent relapse. Attending group or family therapy can help to instill a sense of comfort—your child will feel far less alone, and , these individuals can provide a positive influence.

Teen Drug Abuse Statistics

  • Over half of teens, or 57%, used alcohol in 2011—a 10% increase since 2008. Parental tolerance is associated with alcohol use.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines prescription drug abuse as an epidemic.
  • In 2012, it was found that 493,000 individuals, 12 years or older, tried prescription pain relievers without a prescription for the first time in 12 months. This means that on average, 1,350 abused prescription drugs for the very first time, each day.
  • Teens abuse prescription medication more than any other substance.
    • 25% of admits to misusing prescription drugs at least once. The PATS report showed that teens are far more likely to abuse prescription drugs if parents demonstrate a lackadaisical attitude toward the drug.
    • One in six parents, or 16% believes that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs.
    • More than half of teens, or 56%, state they can easily obtain prescription drugs from their own home.
  • About half, or 45 percent of teens, admit to trying marijuana. Recent legalization of the drug has helped to decrease teen concern, and inspire new users.
  • 9% of parents use marijuana openly in the home, and 16% of parents admit they drink excessively in the presence of their children.
    • An astonishing 8%, or one in ten teens, admits to using marijuana daily—this equates to at least 20 times per month.
    • Parental influence can be exceptionally problematic, since a quarter of teens admitted to using prescription drugs. Youth are far more likely to abuse substances if parents exhibit abuse.
  • Teens who admitted to misusing a prescription drug were asked for their “main reason” in trying a prescription drug, the vast majority, or 70% admitted they did not know why they abused a prescription drug.

The recent decriminalization, legalization and medicalization of marijuana in certain states has seriously changed our point of view. With the sharp rise of ADHD diagnoses, teens now have more access to illicit substances than ever.

Luckily, rates of teenage substance abuse have decreased in recent years, thanks to many revolutionized techniques in teenage recovery. Many beneficial adolescent programs exist.

The growing availability of drugs indicates that parents should address the potential for substance abuse before they are exposed. Talking to your child and demonstrating the importance of avoiding drugs and alcohol will decrease the chance of developing an addiction.

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