When a child is born, it can bring happiness and joy to a family. Parents often wonder about the endless possibilities for their child’s future. They imagine what their kids will be when they grow up and how they may help them succeed. One thing that may also cross their mind is how to prevent their children from facing difficult situations. A top priority may be to prevent them from using substances. For those parents facing the possibility of their child abusing alcohol or drugs, it may be overwhelming to know how to properly handle it. How do I know if my son is an addict? What do I do if my daughter doesn’t stop drinking? These questions can elicit feelings of helplessness and despair. However, there is hope for recovery.
AspenRidge Recovery can help parents navigate the impossible hurdles of finding substance abuse treatment for their child. Contact us today 24/7 for more information at 855-281-5588.
Statistics on Drug Abuse of Adolescents
Studies conducted by the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics show alarming rates of substance abuse among teenagers. Approximately one in eight teenagers abused illicit drugs within the last year. Trends show no sign of slowing, and with increased access to drugs, teenagers are becoming more prone to battling substance abuse.
Other statistics that exist among adolescents across the nation include:
- 2.08 million or 8.33% of 12- to 17-year-olds nationwide report using drugs in the last month.
- Among them, about 84% report using marijuana in the last month.
- 591,000 12- to 17-year-olds used an illicit drug other than marijuana in the last month.
- 8.7% of 8th graders have used illicit drugs in the last month.
- 21.3% of 8th graders have tried illicit drugs at least once.
- By the time they’re in 12th grade, 46.6% of teens have tried illicit drugs.
- 11.89 million 18- to 25-year-olds used drugs in the last month.
- 4,777 Americans aged 15 to 24 years old died of an overdose of illicit drugs in one year.
- 11.2% of overdose deaths are aged 15 to 24 years.
A grave concern for some parents is how do I know if my son is an addict. Or as we like to say in the treatment community, “suffering from an addiction.” At these rates, it’s not impossible that your child has been approached or even introduced to different substances. In some ways, it may feel like a rite of passage.
Peer pressure is pervasive and something that nearly every child will face, especially during adolescent years. Understanding the need to speak with your child about alcohol and drugs can be a major preventive step from the detrimental effects of substance abuse.
What Are the Signs of Addiction?
If you’re wondering: how do I know if my son is an addict, it’s important to start recognizing signs that alcohol or drug abuse may be an issue. Many drugs, both illicit and legal, are recognized as a national public health emergency.
As more communities are rocked by the overdose deaths involving opioids and fentanyl, the nation’s use is simultaneously suffering. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), unfortunately, in households where drug abuse is common, children are almost three times as likely to experiment and even suffer from addiction later in life. For these reasons, it’s imperative that parents recognize the signs that their son or daughter may be negatively impacted by alcohol and drugs.
Noticing signs of addiction can help ignite the conversation leading to potential lifestyle changes. Signs of addiction can vary drastically. Some common signs of addiction include:
- Neglectful behaviors
- Manipulative behaviors
- Mood swings
- Legal and/or financial problems
- Frequent hospital or urgent care visits
- Changes in eating habits
- Failure to quit despite a desire to
Additionally, you may notice that your son or daughter is hanging out with a new crowd. These new friends may also show signs of abuse, be involved in criminal activity, or neglectful of their day-to-day responsibilities.
Are Signs of Addiction Different for Adolescents?
In any parenting situation, it’s critical to understand that being involved in their lives helps to prevent major obstacles. If you’re aware of who they hang out with, what they do, what issues they may be encountering, it’s easier to recognize the small signs that indicate change.
Signs of addiction often change depending on what situation or stressors are present for an individual. These stressors often change with age. Common stressors for young adults are drastically different from stressors associated with middle to late adulthood. Common signs of addiction for teenagers and young adults may include:
- Mood changes
- Lower academic performance
- Irregular friend groups
- Disruptive or avoidant attitude
- Finding paraphernalia
- Physical or mental changes (e.g., weight loss/gain, poor concentration, etc.).
While the signs of alcohol and drug abuse may appear slightly altered in adolescents, it does not limit the seriousness and long-term effects of substance use. Understanding what to do once you’ve answered how do I know if my son is an addict can help you navigate the seemingly impossible hurdles of helping your child recover.
Does Teenage Drinking Actually Put My Child at Risk?
Underage drinking has been correlated with a higher risk for alcoholism and substance use disorders. It not only places them at risk for future substance problems. Underage drinking can lead to developmental concerns, learning disabilities, and early onset health problems.
How Does Addiction Affect My Child’s Emotional Development?
According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 33% of high school aged children indicated having used alcohol, 18% indicated binge drinking, and another 8% said they often operate a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. Alcohol is a significant risk factor for teenagers and young adults, as they are still physically and emotionally developing.
While alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among teens, it’s hardly the only one being used. The seriousness of substance abuse becomes more apparent when discussing a child’s emotional development. Alcohol-dependent individuals, particularly teens, traditionally have insecure attachment styles, higher anger expression, and lower self-esteem, according to the National Institute of Health.
Common effects on emotional development due to addiction include:
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Decreased concentration
- Lack of motivation
- Anger problems
Alternatively, the above emotional developmental disorders may also lead a child or adolescent to experiment with new drugs. In other words, they may also be more likely to abuse drugs to help find relief from co-occurring mental disorders.
Therapy is a great option for teens with issues with specific situations or difficulty adjusting to school or home life. It may make a world of difference as they find their way to adulthood. The sooner these patterns are identified, the less likely they are to turn to alcohol and drugs.
How Does Addiction Affect My Child’s Physical Development?
Addiction can have a significant effect on physical development as well as emotional development. Since alcohol is a depressant and slows the nervous system, development delays may occur, leading to severe immediate and future problems. Common immediate physical development problems may include:
- Memory retention
- Sleep disturbances
- Breathing problems
Prolonged concerns may also occur and may become severe. These concerns may include the early onset of the following:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Cirrhosis (Liver problems)
Should I Talk to My Child About An Addiction?
Discussing potential behaviors that are representative of an addiction is crucial. Discussing your concerns with your child is an important step in helping them to receive rehabilitative treatments be it outpatient counseling, detox, or inpatient hospitalization. Many parents do not discuss their concerns of addictive behaviors due to fear of alienating their son or daughter. Research often shows the opposite. By showing concern and discussing suspected addictive behaviors, children often feel heard and understood, leading to an important bond that can help throughout the rehabilitative process.
How Do I Talk to My Child About An Addiction?
Approaching adolescents and young adults calmly and openly is a key component of having a safe and effective discussion about addictive behaviors. Being open and compassionate can open the conversation to growth and healing. It is not recommended to scold or to use strong consequences when addressing potential addictive behaviors as this may cause more harm and isolation, increasing substance use. Good tactics to use while discussing addictive behaviors include:
- Active listening
- Eye contact
- Minimizing distractions (e.g., no phone, music, private room, etc.).
- Non-judgmental comments
- Open body language (e.g., no crossed legs or arms, head nodding, etc.).
- Ask for clarification if you do not understand
- Express genuine concern
Are There Resources Available For Parents?
Yes. There are several resources available for parents who may suspect a potential addiction for their child. Several articles and helpful resources are available online at samhsa.gov.
How Can AspenRidge Help?
AspenRidge provides recovery options for Coloradans and parents’ of teens who may be experimenting or abusing drugs. We provide a continuum of care that addresses issues as they surround misuse of medications by family members while providing support for children, young adults, and other close relatives. Our experienced and certified staff takes a phase-oriented approach to long-term recovery, and thorough assessments determine the level of care.
Our Recovery options for prescription addiction include the following programs:
- Partial Hospitalization Day Program (PHP)
- Day Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Evening Intensive Outpatient Program
- Outpatient Program
Please contact AspenRidge Recovery Centers at 855-281-5588 to schedule an assessment.