What to Do if Your Teenager Is in Trouble

By The Care Centers. Posted on Thu Mar 03 2016

If you suspect or know that your teen is using drugs or drinking alcohol, it’s your job as a parent to do something about it, but what can you do? You want to protect your child and keep them from getting hurt or developing an addiction, and you don’t want them to get in trouble with the law, either. So what’s your game plan when you think that they’re abusing alcohol or other substances?

Make Observations
If your child is not actually doing anything wrong, you don’t want to violate their trust or get the biggest eye-roll of your life from them, but you can’t risk their health and safety, either. So, before you approach them or do anything else, start by making observations. How has their behavior and/or personal appearance changed? Are they avoiding eye contact with you? Do they have a lot of vague answers when you ask them where they’ve been?

Gather Evidence
While you don’t want to violate your child’s privacy, you do need to know if there’s something to be worried about or not. So don’t feel bad about looking for drugs, drug paraphernalia, empty bottles of liquor, or other evidence that your child is abusing drugs and alcohol. Once you know for sure, then you can move on to the next step of creating a game plan, intervening, and getting your child the help they need.

Talk With Your Spouse
You already know that you’re going to confront your child about their drug or alcohol use, but before you do this you need to know what comes next. Discuss the situation with your spouse, including your families’ histories of alcoholism and/or drug addiction. Don’t throw blame around – remember, this is a stressful and frightening situation for both of you. Instead, stay supportive of each other and your child as you develop a plan.

Be Prepared for a Negative Reaction
Your teen isn’t going to be overjoyed when you confront them about their substance abuse, and they may lash out at you and your spouse. Be prepared for this and keep it in mind as you create a safe space to hold an intervention and get your child the help they need.

Stay Focused on Your Child’s Health and Wellbeing
Whether you hold an intervention with the whole family or you and your spouse confront your child alone, remember that this is not about “getting in trouble.” Your child is already in trouble with drugs and alcohol, so stay focused on their health and their mental and emotional wellbeing. Let them know that you’re here for them and that you want to help them. Do not present the idea of going to a rehab facility as if it were a punishment.

Rehabilitation is a means to treat an illness and to help kids and adults who have substance abuse problems learn how to get through them and live normal, happy lives without the need to get drunk or high. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to help your child understand that and get the help they need.

Tags: Mental Health