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Teen substance abuse is problematic and does lead to addiction later in life. Moreover, there are many risky behaviors that youth may engage in that contribute to death and disability among youth and adults. According to the CDC, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System monitors six categories of health-related behaviors. These behaviors are those that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence, sexual behaviors related to unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV. Other behaviors include alcohol and drug use, tobacco use, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and inadequate physical activity.

There are many things for parents to be concerned about, but parents should be prepared to talk to their kids about these concerns. Teens who abuse alcohol or drugs are usually secretive about it, and most teens who end up in treatment began experimenting with drugs or alcohol without their parents knowing. Unfortunately, by the time a parent suspects their teen has a drug problem, he or she may have a serious problem. However, there are steps parents can take to intervene and help their child.

Parents Should Trust Their Instincts and Monitor the Situation

Most parents carry around a nagging feeling that their teen could be doing drugs; do not ignore this feeling because your instincts are usually right. Parents should take the time to talk to their children and explain their concerns in detail. Provide education and information about drugs and alcohol but be prepared. Your child may open up about his or her drug use and ask for help. Your teen may have made a mistake, but now is the time to correct it. There are numerous options to help teens, whether this is substance use treatment or counseling.

However, there are circumstances where your child denies substance use, but do not leave it at that and continue to monitor. Substance abuse causes physical and psychological changes and physical evidence. For example, this could be finding drugs or paraphernalia, text messages from friends you do not know, or they are struggling with issues at school they have not told you about. It is ok to ask your teen questions, but it is good to approach it in a non-confrontational way. However, when all the indicators are pointing to addiction, early intervention is necessary.

Consider Professional Intervention if Your Teen is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Early intervention or even hiring a family interventionist is the best option. Parents should not wait until their teen reaches out for help and experimenting with drugs or alcohol is not a phase. Certified interventionists are qualified to help families with teens that are struggling with addiction. A family that hires a professional interventionist is taking control, listening to their instincts, and preventing addiction from going any further.

There are many significant benefits to hiring a professional interventionist. Some teens have become experts at manipulating their parents or caregivers. There are old arguments and environmental factors that increase the risk of addiction. For example, the home environment, especially during childhood, is a particularly important factor. There are often parents or older family members who use drugs or misuse alcohol or break the law. This home environment increases children’s risk of future drug or alcohol abuse. An interventionist helps address these problems when forming the intervention team and providing counseling options for those family members.

Professional intervention for teens increases their awareness and opens their eyes to the effect their substance misuse has on family and friends. The process will also motivate them to agree that they have a problem and need help. The people involved with the intervention create a strategy for recovery with step by step goals and guidelines. The key to a successful intervention is to plan ahead and time it right. Do not wait until the last minute to plan the intervention. Organize, prepare, and become educated about addiction. Work with the professional interventionist to schedule the intervention and move forward with the process.

Emerging Drug Trends Among Adolescents

According to the Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends, past month, past year, and lifetime marijuana use remained steady among 8, 10, and 12th graders. However, daily marijuana use increased among 8th and 10th graders. The lifetime, past year, and past month alcohol use and binge drinking continued to show significant five-year declines in 10th and 12th graders. Also, the percent of high school teens reporting lifetime alcohol use declined compared to peak years. Past year prescription opioid misuse continued a significant decline among 12th graders.

The survey findings also reflected steady rates of other illegal drug use in this population. Commonly abused drugs are cocaine, methamphetamine, and over the counter cough and cold medicine. Past year use of cocaine was reported by 0.7% of 8th graders, 1.5% of 10th graders, and 2.2% of 12th graders. Methamphetamine use remained low and steady, with users across all prevalence periods at less than one percent in all grades. From 2018 to 2019, the lifetime and past-month use of amphetamines remained steady. However, past year use decreased among high school seniors, and a five-year decline in the past month, past year, and lifetime use were reported by 10th and 12th graders.

Sources: NIDA. “Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends DrugFacts.”
National Institute on Drug Abuse, 18 Dec. 2019,

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