4 Ways Parents Can Help Teens Cope With Addiction Issues

If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’re probably all too familiar with the unique struggles teens undergo during this complex phase of development.  From peer pressure to keeping school grades up – mood swings to learning responsibilities – dealing with teens can sometimes feel overwhelming for parents or guardians.  Add addiction to the mix, and you’re likely faced with extraordinary challenges in keeping teens safe and healthy well into adulthood.  With this in mind, we’ve come up with these four useful tips and ways parents can help teens cope with addiction issues.

Get Educated

It’s been said, “forewarned is forearmed,” and this is especially true when helping teens face and overcome addiction issues.  As a parent, the more you know about addiction and your teen’s strife the better equipped you are to support your child through this potentially devastating phase in life.  

As part of building your education about addiction, you should also consider learning from your teen.  Ask them questions, and learn about what they are going through. Asking questions and actively listening can bring you closer to understanding the true misery of addiction and what your teen is faced with on a regular basis.

Seek Outside Help

Very often, teens are reluctant to open up about their addictions to their parents.  From feelings of shame or guilt to the fear of disappointing their parents – teens frequently try to hide addictive behavior.  Knowing this, it might be best to seek outside adolescent mental health treatment.  

Mental health professionals who specialize in teen addiction issues can be a safe place for your child to openly discuss their problems and their battle with addiction.  Talking to someone other than a parent often helps teens feel more willing to express themselves without risking judgment.  Additionally, mental health treatment can give teens tools and resources to cope with addiction issues that, as a parent, you might not be able to fully provide. 

Get Proactive

The teenage years are a rite of passage.  Consequently, many teens are fighting for their independence and more frequently seek freedom from parental supervision as a way of demonstrating their journey into adulthood.  While it’s important for teens to wean themselves from their parents so they may become self-sufficient – that in no way should diminish the authoritative role parents still have in raising their teens.  

With this in mind, you have every right to stay involved in your teen’s life – no matter how independent he or she wants to be.  Therefore, take time to ask about where they are going, what they are doing, and who they are doing it with.  Consider putting a tracking app on their phone and/or monitoring their social media activity.  This might seem like a violation of your teen’s privacy – but when it comes to helping your teen avoid or cope with addiction – some proactive measures must be taken.  

Going through a child’s room to assess evidence of drug or alcohol abuse is also condonable as you fight to protect your teen’s wellbeing.  Odds are, your teen will not like these actions and may view your intrusion as an invasion of their privacy.  However, as a parent, you’ve got to involve yourself with a teen’s daily life and activities if he or she is subject to addiction issues.

Help Them – Don’t Enable Them

There’s no question that teens with addiction issues need help from parents, friends, and family members.  However, there is a fine line between coming to their aid and enabling teens.  Parents often enable teens because there is a sense of guilt or they are genuinely trying to help their teens.  

Nonetheless, giving them money without earning it or doing their chores does not help teens learn responsibility or overcome addiction.  Instead of giving them what they ask, take steps to help them satisfy their needs.  For instance, rather than giving them money to go to the movies, offer to drive them to a 12-step meeting and then drive them to the movies afterward. 

In conclusion, it’s important to know that helping teens cope with addiction can be a full-time prospect and requires ongoing diligence from parents.  It’s also important to know that your teen won’t always agree with your involvement in their recovery.  Regardless, parents are the number one defense against their teens falling victim to addiction. As such, it is essential that parents remain actively involved in helping teens cope with addiction issues.