The Effects Of Teen Substance Abuse On Families And How To Help
Teenage substance abuse touches every kind of family regardless of race, social level or education. When a teen uses it never affects just themselves – it impacts everyone around them, especially other family members.
Family relationships become strained as a teen deepens their use of alcohol or drugs. This happens for many reasons. In the midst of substance abuse, teens can become secretive, irritable, depressed, lazy, hard to motivate and sometimes even angry or aggressive. Obviously, close relationships are negatively affected by this kind of personality and behavior change.
Family members may become angry themselves or develop avoidant behaviors in order to deal with an unruly teen under the influence. To avoid conflicts or feelings of guilt and rejection, the teen may increasingly isolate himself in his room away from the family, further weakening the familial bond.
Ignoring And Denying Teen Drug Use
Many families begin by ignoring or denying the existence of the problem, telling themselves it’s just a phase, or excusing the behavior because of difficult circumstances in the teen’s life.
Attempts are made to keep the problem secret and hidden from others. Unfortunately while the family is trying to protect the teen from direct consequences or prying eyes and wagging tongues, they are actually enabling the behavior and preventing the teen from getting much-needed help.
Enabling Teen Addicts
It isn’t unusual for family members to want to show love and mercy. When there’s a sob story parents and siblings may give the teen money, which typically goes to fund the habit. In other scenarios the addict doesn’t ask for money, they simply take it. Again, family members sometimes decide not to confront when money is suddenly missing from their purse or wallet.
Teen Substance Abuse On Younger Siblings
One huge impact of teen drug or alcohol abuse is the example it sets for younger siblings. Little brothers or sisters may decide to imitate the behavior. They start hanging out with the teen’s friends who are likely to be users themselves. Conversely, when siblings don’t respect the abuser it can create a rift in what was formerly a close relationship.
Parents get drawn into the fallout of teen substance abuse, blaming themselves or one another for the problem. Besides not resolving the issue it can wind up producing depression in one or both of the parents, compounding the family’s issues. Without a strong support network, parents and siblings can feel isolated, hurt and impotent.
Family Dangers With A Teen On Drugs And How To Intervene
The fact that teens can become violent while they are drunk or high creates an entirely separate risk issue from all of the relational breakdowns. They may become unpleasant to be around, even violent, and they may lie and steal, making everyone in the home feel terrorized.
What families need to do in order to halt the downward cycle of destruction is intervene. For some families this will mean signing the teen up for an outpatient program, for others it may mean placing the teen in a residential treatment center. Since getting at the root issues of substance abuse often takes time, some families opt for therapeutic boarding schools. Whatever the decision, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away and enabling the problem only makes it worse.