You Are Not Alone: Helping Your Adolescent Find Substance Use Treatment

While experimentation with substances is a common feature of identity exploration, it can become problematic when it interferes with daily functioning and relationships and can lead to later negative consequences and substance dependence. Teenagers who use drugs are more likely to get high out of curiosity or due to peer pressure and sensation seeking, but they also use drugs to numb emotional issues when they haven’t developed communication or self-regulation skills. Adolescent substance use treatment programs realize that there is a difference between frequent use and physical dependence and try to focus on the underlying emotional issues that contribute to substance use, which involves intensive family therapy and confidence building.

Is Your Teenager Hiding Their Substance Use?

Alcohol and marijuana are the most commonly abused substances among teenagers, although prescription pills, especially benzodiazepines and stimulants, are often accessible from family medicine cabinets or their own supply, as psychiatrists often assume teenagers have not realized their possible recreational value. Among adolescents, 40% admit to having tried marijuana and 35% report drinking alcohol frequently. Close to 20% of adolescents are prescribed medication for mental health issues and 7% have taken prescription pills that are not own. Despite these high numbers, teenagers may overestimate their substance use around peers but are less likely to admit their substance use to their parents or teachers due to fear of judgment or consequences.

When Does Substance Use Stop Being Experimental?

While occasional substance use is common among teenagers, less than 5% of teenagers report either having entered a substance use treatment program or needing access to resources for substance abuse. Physical signs of drug abuse vary depending on the substance.
Common themes include academic decline, loss of interest, secretive behavior, unusual tiredness, missing curfew, neglecting responsibility, legal problems, relationship problems, withdrawing from family, and high-risk behaviors, including speeding, unprotected sex, and petty theft.

Encouraging Your Teenager to Reach Out for Help

Early intervention can prevent negative consequences and long-term substance dependence. While your teenager may be resistant to realizing or admitting that they have a problem with substances, you can help them reduce or stop their substance use without turning your house into a police state.
Be Direct. Ignoring the elephant in the room enables them to continue using. Let them know that you know and that you are there to help, if they want you to.
Learn about the problem. Research side effects of their drug of choice and possible withdrawal symptoms. Ask about their experience and their attachment to substance use. Ask how they would best feel supported.
Minimize Judgment. If you want them to trust you to talk about their substance use, do not criticize their decisions. Instead of labeling their actions as right or wrong, express concern and a desire to help or listen.
Limit Access to substances and toxic relationships. While grounding them can be isolating, encourage structured socializing. Monitor technology use and spending without restricting it.
Encourage them to take responsibility for their actions and how substance use has affected their relationships and goals.
Address Underlying Emotional Issues. Substance use is often a way of self-medicating depression, anxiety, trauma, identity issues, and self-esteem. Consult professionals who understand the interaction between mental health and substance abuse.
Remember you are not alone.

Trails Carolina can help.

If your teenager’s substance use is ongoing or escalating, Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program that specializes in adolescent substance use treatment for teenagers ages 14-17. Trails uses survival skills, self-care practices, and adventure therapy to help teenagers heal from substance use and learn how to meet their needs in more effective ways. We acknowledge how substance abuse affects the whole family and emphasize family involvement through family therapy, support groups, and workshops.

Avatar of Francis Van De Beuken

Francis Van De Beuken

Get started today

Contact us today to learn how Trails Carolina can help your family

Contact Us LP

Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022

 

Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022

 

Depression And Anxiety Are More Common Than You Think

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. It is common for someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression and vice versa. The number of children and adolescents that struggle with anxiety and/or depression has increased over time. According to a report from 2011-2012, more than 1…
Mental Health New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Mental Health Resolutions for 2022

Traditionally the start of the new year is a time for adjustments and goal setting. We reflect on what we didn’t like about the previous year and optimistically make plans for bettering ourselves for the next. This time is ideal for incorporating these new year’s resolutions into one’s personal life. Most people focus on their…

Exercise and Mental Health

  Not every person can tolerate modern psychotropic medications intended to treat many of these psychological conditions. At least 20% of people cannot tolerate medications for allergies or other reasons. Because of that, finding alternative solutions that can be adjusted to personal treatment plans is important. Exercise has many health benefits for both mind and…
trails carolina reviews

Trails Carolina’s wilderness camps for troubled teens are dedicated to helping teens work through behavioral or emotional difficulties, build trusting relationships with their family and peers, and achieve academic success.