Planning an intervention for anyone is a challenge, but preparing an intervention for your teen with a substance abuse disorder presents several unique complications. It can be incredibly difficult for a parent to acknowledge a teen’s addiction, but doing so is the necessary first step to executing a positive and constructive intervention that will encourage the teen into rehab.
Professional interventionists can work with parents to help them identify key warning signs that a teen has developed a substance abuse problem that demands immediate treatment. Interventionists can also help parents and family members of teens struggling with substance abuse prepare intervention strategies that offer the best chances of success. Ultimately, an intervention should be the turning point that convinces a person struggling with addiction to acknowledge his or her situation and accept the need for treatment. However, a teen struggling with substance abuse can present unique challenges when it comes to the intervention phase of substance abuse treatment.
Addiction And The Teen Brain
Adolescence is one of the most crucial phases of human development when it comes to healthy brain growth and maturation*. Various studies have proven that substance abuse at younger ages not only increases the risk of developing addiction-related medical conditions, but also increases the likelihood of an adolescent struggling with substance abuse more intensely and longer due to dependency manifesting at a young age. When a teen abuses alcohol or illicit drugs during a period of crucial brain development, the results can be – and usually are – life changing.
Desensitization And Teen Psychology
Most teens see anti-drug warnings everywhere. Virtually every high school in America will have anti-drug messaging throughout their facilities, conduct regular drug and alcohol educational presentations and even focus entire classes around drug abuse prevention. Unfortunately, teenagers inherently gravitate toward dissention, and constant bombardment from anti-drug messaging in controlled environments may not have the desired effects. Some teens become desensitized to these anti-drug messages and may grow overly curious about drugs in spite of them.
Teens also consume a great deal of digital media in the form of movies, television shows, internet media, and video games. Some media may display drugs and alcohol in a glamorous light or relay misinformation about substance abuse. Teens can easily cultivate dangerous misconceptions about these issues when parents fail to monitor the type of media content their teens consume.
The best preventative measures against teen substance abuse typically originate at home. Honest and open conversations about substance abuse and related issues may be more constructive than consistent anti-drug messaging that may feel marketed or inaccurate. Additionally, many teens may hear conflicting reports about the effects of substance abuse from peers or adults outside the family. Ultimately, parents have a vital responsibility to talk to their children about substance abuse and help their teens cultivate healthy habits that continue into adulthood.
Teen Addiction And The Family
Many teens develop the foundations of their attitudes toward alcohol and drugs at home. Parents, older siblings, friends of the family, and overall behavior during family events all influence a teen’s conceptions about substance abuse and the associated risks. Some teens may carry misconceptions about drugs or feel uncertain about things they have heard and often feel shy in asking their parents about these concerns. Teens are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of substance abuse, and failure to address these issues in time could lead to an adulthood significantly complicated by the fallout from addiction.
Parents who encourage honest discussions with their teens often find their teens are more receptive to open communication than many parents realize. Parents should also be good role models for their teens when it comes to substance abuse. Children who grow up around parents who abuse alcohol or other drugs tend to fall into substance abuse themselves as adults more often than their peers who grew up in mostly alcohol and drug-free home environments.
If you are concerned about your teen’s attitudes toward drugs and alcohol, try to start a conversation about what he or she has learned about substance abuse from school, media, and friends. This can be a great opportunity to clear up misconceptions so your teen can better understand the potential risks of substance abuse. Many American teens experiment with alcohol and drugs during adolescence, but this should never carry a connotation of acceptability or an absence of consequences. Some teens may experiment once or twice and never touch illicit substances again while others may fall into addiction very quickly. Parents must stay vigilant and address these issues as they arise.
The Need for Intervention
When parents suspect a teen has been abusing drugs or alcohol, they must take interventive action as soon as possible before the issue spirals out of control. Some forms of addiction can progress very rapidly, and a teen does not possess the same level of self-control as an adult. This can cause an addiction to escalate to potentially life-threatening levels more quickly than some parents realize. The one caveat to this risk is that drugs and alcohol cost money, and most teens rely on their parents or part-time, minimum wage jobs for personal income. This can be a saving grace in that lack of personal income makes it more difficult to maintain a substance abuse habit. However, teens are more prone to risky behavior, such as engaging in illegal activities to secure more drugs once they develop addictions.
An intervention can be the turning point for a teen who has developed a substance abuse disorder. He or she may not even realize the problem. For example, some teens who suffer sports-related injuries may require surgery and painkillers during recovery. Many teens in the U.S. have developed addictions to prescription opioid painkillers unknowingly. Once the signs of dependency appear, parents should work quickly to start planning an intervention.
What To Expect From An Intervention
An intervention is an opportunity for the people closest to a person struggling with addiction to offer their support and encourage their loved one into rehab. A teen may feel trapped or put upon by this event if executed poorly, so it is vital for parents to plan an intervention for a teen very carefully. The intervention should take place in an open and supportive environment and the people participating in the intervention should prepare for difficult but honest conversations with the struggling teen. Ideally, the teen should not be under the influence when the intervention takes place, so timing is important.
How A Professional Interventionist Could Help Your Teen
Professional interventionists can help families of teens struggling with substance abuse plan and execute effective and constructive interventions. They can help parents identify important warning signs that a teen needs immediate treatment and help them prepare for the difficult conversations ahead.
In the planning phase of a teen intervention, the interventionist will help participants prepare for the conversations ahead, coach them as to which topics they should focus on and which they should avoid, and how to handle the emotional stress of the overall situation. Professional interventionists strive to facilitate constructive and positive interventions that succeed in encouraging those struggling with substance abuse to accept the need for treatment and enter rehab.