How To Talk to Your Teen About Substance Abuse



It can be extremely difficult to talk to your teenager about substance abuse, but now more than ever, they need to understand the risks and why they should avoid experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Before approaching the subject, it’s important to arm yourself with as much information as possible so you know how to speak in ways that will resonate with your teen and provide them with the correct information about what substances can do to their body and mind. Here are four tips for talking to your teen about substance abuse.

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse begins when an individual develops a pattern of drug use. Dysfunction in the brain as a result of drug use leads to physical, spiritual, and mental manifestations. It is considered a brain disorder because it involves functional changes to the parts of the brain involved in processing risk and reward.

Share with your teen that long-term substance abuse can have devastating effects on your life including financial problems, relationship troubles, poor health, crime, and the like. What’s more, leaving substance abuse untreated can lead to a downward spiral ending with jail time or even death from overdose.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a brain disease. We all have choices in life, but people with addiction lack control over these choices. Although many people assume that individuals struggling with addiction are morally weak or flawed, science tells us that problem behaviors arise from changes in brain structure and function—and these changes can be linked to genetic vulnerabilities, environmental influences, and developmental factors.

You can share the vulnerabilities with your teen so that they can recognize if a friend is suffering from addiction. This is also a way to help your teen recognize these concerns easier if addiction becomes a problem for them.

How To Tell if My Teen Needs Help

If you notice your teen using substances, help them understand their risk of developing a substance abuse problem by talking about these dangers together. One in five high school students has used an illicit drug and one in eight has abused prescription drugs. Teens are at risk for more than just addiction—early drug use can affect your teen’s brain development, leading to negative effects that can last into adulthood.

What Treatment Will Look Like

Getting treatment for your teen starts with them admitting that they have a problem. If your teen is ready for treatment, you or they will likely need some time before treatment can begin. Finding the right recovery program or rehab center and developing a strong belief in and commitment to treatment is the beginning of the road to recovery.

One of a parent’s greatest fears is that their child will start using drugs or alcohol to the point where they become addicted to them. However, it’s important to note that kids are influenced by the culture around them and they are also influenced by their peers at school or in their social circle. This article has some helpful tips for talking to your teen about substance abuse so that you can help your child stay safe and healthy throughout their teenage years and beyond.


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