You can read all the articles you want on understanding a loved one’s addiction, but when it’s your child that you suspect has an addiction, all practical advice seems to fly out the window and you are left unsure how to help them.
As teens who are suffering from drug addiction are often moody, secretive, and more prone to lashing out, it can be incredibly difficult to know how to approach them about your concerns. To help you overcome this hurdle to help your troubled teen, there are several steps you can take.
Find Non-confrontational Ways To Start The Conversation
Even when teens aren’t struggling with drug addiction, opening up any conversation can be tricky, especially if the habit of open conversation between you and your teen hasn’t been established. Either way, it is important that you approach your teen in non-confrontational ways to open up the conversation about your concerns. Some ways you can try are:
- Go on a drive with your teen and talk about some of the teen drug abuse statistics you looked up beforehand. Since you are in the car, your teen can’t just exit the conversation, but they won’t have to make direct eye contact, which can make teens defensive.
- Take a walk with your teen and talk about your own experiences with drug use and what you have learned. Even if you have not used drugs yourself, it is likely someone in your circle of family and friends have, and you can discuss how your loved one’s drug abuse impacted those around them.
- Make your questions open-ended which cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. For example, instead of saying, “Has anyone offered you drugs?” try something like, “How would you feel about someone who offers you drugs?” Even if the only answer is, “I dunno, weird I guess,” you can pursue that line, asking them why it makes them feel weird and what your teen’s response would be.
Talk To Your Teenager About The Signs You See
If the initial forays into opening the conversation on your teen’s drug use don’t help your teen talk to you about their addiction, you will need to be more direct. It can be as simple as saying, “I’m concerned that some of the changes you’ve been undergoing are linked to drug abuse.” Likely, your teen will deny it, so be prepared to ask them about the signs you have seen.
If you aren’t sure what the signs of teen drug abuse are, here are some things which you can focus on when talking to your teen:
- Avoids family time
- Has become highly secretive
- Extreme changes in appetite
- Mood swings with startling highs and lows
- Lack of good hygiene
- Covering up smells with mint or body sprays
- Drop in grades
- Loss of interest in hobbies and extracurriculars
- Weight fluctuations
Be Clear About The Family Stance On Drug Use
As you talk to your teen about their drug addiction, it is essential that you are clear about your family’s stance on drug abuse. You should also be clear that this stance applies to street drugs as well as the kinds your teen may find in your home, such as cigarettes, alcohol, and prescription pills. It is surprising, but many teens don’t consider abusing prescription drugs as bad as using street drugs, though the addictive results are clearly the same.
If you haven’t talked about the repercussions of breaking the family rules concerning drug use, be sure to bring them up as you talk to your teen about your suspicions around their drug addiction. Also, along with the consequences, let your teen know that you are ready and willing to help them if your teen is ready to be honest and face down their addiction. Because, with perseverance and support, you can help your teen as they struggle through their drug addiction and be a key player in helping your teen recover and move forward again.