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Planning an Intervention for Teens Struggling with Substance Abuse

Last Updated: August 19, 2019
Planning an Intervention for Teens Struggling with Substance AbuseIt’s no secret that nearly every teenager goes through a rebellious phase at some point or another. The time may eventually come where they begin to act out, talk back, change their appearance, and maybe even skip school on occasion. But a heavy dose of actions like these may mean there is a larger underlying problem. The consumption of drugs and alcohol in teens is constantly on the rise. A report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has announced the following statistics related to substance abuse in children under the age of 18:
  • 70% have tried alcohol at least once
  • Almost 40% have smoked a cigarette
  • 50% have used an illegal drug
  • 20% have taken prescription drugs recreationally
Each of these substances leaves the user prone to addiction or even dependence. And as those habits continue, the rebellious nature of teenagers can increase dramatically. This often leads to major health and behavioral problems, which can affect a young person for the rest of their life. If you have found your child has developed a substance abuse problem, the way you react is paramount to how the situation will progress. While approaching them about it can be one of the most difficult and sensitive parts of the process, understanding how to stage an intervention with your teen will be one of the most crucial first steps on their path to recovery.

1. Speak with Your Significant Other

Before approaching your teen, the first step in the process is to get both guardians on the same page regarding the topic. Ensure both sides understand that neither is to blame and allow yourselves to discuss the situation in full.

2. Make Sure You Have Indisputable Evidence

Approaching your child about substance abuse will instantly put them on the defensive and spark trust issues right away, regardless of whether they are using drugs or not. It is important to have solid proof of the issue, as well as prepare for the tables to be turned on you. One of the quickest reactions from a teen will be for them to point the finger in any other direction to get the focus on someone else. Make sure you keep the conversation open and honest but concentrate on what is happening here and now.

3. Relate to Others with Similar Issues

As you are determining how to stage an intervention with your teen, it’s important to recognize family members or friends who struggle with similar problems with addiction. This will help your child feel like they’re not alone but also help them understand the importance of refusing to take part in these dangerous practices.

4. Set Goals and Discuss Treatment Options

An intervention isn’t designed with the sole hope that your teen will simply stop using drugs because you know about it. It is vital that as the discussion comes to an end that goals and objectives are set in place as a way to generate accountability and start moving in the right direction. Depending on the level of substance abuse, treatment options can include everything from detox and therapy to medication and even going to rehab programs. Take the time to understand each of these choices so you can choose the best one when the time comes.

Getting Help Before and After the Intervention

If your teenager is struggling with addiction of any kind, there may be a period of withdrawal that comes into play as they detox. This time can be uncomfortable and even painful in some instances, which is why it is recommended to seek assistance from a medical professional as you proceed through the steps. 
Last Updated on August 19, 2019
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About the editor
Gerardo Sison, PharmD
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