Image of a teen smoking a cigarette
If an adolescent starts behaving differently for no apparent reason, such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile – it could be a sign the teen is developing a drug related problem. Parents and others may overlook these signs and attribute them to be a normal part of puberty, but it could also be a sign that the teen is heading down a path that could result in him or her requiring to enter a drug rehab.

Teen drug or alcohol abuse assessment

If you notice your teen exhibiting any of the following behaviors, he or she may have a drug or alcohol abuse problem and it is time to call a respected addiction treatment center to speak with an expert:

  • Sudden personality changes and mood swings
  • Failure to meet a curfew
  • Sleeps too late or doesn’t sleep enough
  • Chores are left undone
  • Sudden drop in school grades
  • Shows little interest in family activities
  • Isolates him or herself in their bedroom
  • Becomes dishonest
  • Change in friends who look or act like they use drugs
  • Decrease of attention to personal hygiene

And perhaps most importantly, but not a behavioral change, a parent finds drugs in their teen’s bedroom

Any of these new behaviors that have manifested on a frequent basis can indicate that there is a problem. At this point, you should seek outside assistance. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Through scientific advances, we know more than ever about how drugs work in the brain. We also know that addiction can be successfully treated to help young people stop abusing drugs and to lead productive lives. Intervening early when you first spot the signs of drug/alcohol activity in your teen is critical.

First, reach for your circle of family and friends. Get everyone involved to bolster the spirits of your teen. Show him or her that they have a support system in place that they can count on. If your teen opens up to another family member other than you, don’t take it personally, remember the focus is on helping your teen.

Second, if the help from family and friends is unsuccessful then your teen may need the structure and intensity of a residential treatment program. Teen parents may run into difficulty getting their teen to agree to participate in the program. Some teens know they’re in trouble and agree to go when this option is presented to them. However many won’t go into treatment until parents take action to persuade them to do so.

Strategies to motivate teens to get the help they need:

Get another teen to talk to your teen – Try to locate a teen who’s benefited from being in a treatment program by contacting adolescent therapists or teen programs and asking for help in setting this up for you.

Ask your teens’ school for help – School counselors, coaches, or a teacher whom your child are more close too will usually talk to your teen about your concerns and about the benefits of getting help. If your teen is drugs, school officials can confront your teen on suspicion of drug use, requiring them to participate in an evaluation in which the treatment recommendations have to be completed before he or she can return to school. This works best when your teen is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while attending school.

Arrange an interventionInterventions can be very effective for a teen who is self-destructive and needs help, but isn’t willing to get it. During an intervention, the teen is confronted on how their problems are negatively affecting them and the people who care about them. Family members, close friends, clergy, employers, teachers and anyone who knows the teen well present their concerns to the teen. This is done without the teen having any prior knowledge about this planned event. There are even professional intervention specialists who can help with this process. These specialists are very experienced in doing interventions.

Have your teen escorted – In cases when nothing motivates your teen to agree, they can be escorted into treatment by a service with professionals trained to safely transport teens. Sometimes letting a teen know this option is available will persuade them to go more willingly because they may be aware they have run out of options. Typically, parents may not want to alert the teen of this option until it actually happens.

Get the judicial system involved – When a teen is abusing drugs or participating in other illegal activities, parents have the option to call the police and ask them to intervene, hoping a judge will order the teen into a court mandated treatment program. This approach does mean your teen may end up with an arrest record or possibly spend time in jail (for juveniles), but this may be the only way to get a teens’ attention and the help they need to change their self-destructive behavior.

Why can’t some teens stop using drugs on their own?

Repeated drug use changes the brain. Brain-imaging studies of people with drug addictions show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning, memory and behavior control. Quitting is difficult, even for those who feel they’re ready. It takes a lot of courage to seek help for a child with a drug problem, as it interrupts academic, personal and possible athletic milestones expected during the teen years. However treatment works, and teens can recover from addiction. Treatment enables young people to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on their brain and behavior so they can regain control of their lives.

Benefits of an inpatient teen rehab program

A teen rehab center is a place where any teen suffering from drug or alcohol abuse will be treated with care and dignity. Inpatient treatment provides a safety net for teens with drug or alcohol addictions because the temptations of the outside world are not available. Teenage rehab facilities are well aware of the needs of their patients and adapt treatment programs for each individual patient. It is important to remember that no one is alone in recovery.

Addiction is a problem that needs to addressed with the help of medical and mental health professionals. Early treatment is vital in these early years as rates of drug use doubles in young adults ages 18-25.