Adolescent Addiction

It is very distressing for parents when they find out their young son or daughter has a drug or alcohol addiction problem. On the positive side, there is plenty of help available for teens with addiction problems and for their parents. Parents should not feel ashamed of, or embarrassed by, any child who is suffering from addiction. Adolescent addiction is an illness for which treatments are available.

Where to Get Help

There are many resources available for teens with addiction problems. Rehab centers, some of them dedicated to treating adolescents, can help get your child off drugs or alcohol through detox programs. Therapy and counseling are provided to help them stay sober. Many rehab facilities offer family therapy, during which family members learn about addiction and how best to help somebody with the illness.

There are both inpatient and outpatient treatments available for teens with substance addictions, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Inpatient treatment is good because it takes the teen out of an environment in which they can obtain substances. However, outpatient treatment means the teen can carry on with normal activities like attending school while receiving treatment.

The choice you make will depend on you and your teen’s circumstances. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has published guidelines on evaluating rehab services to assist in the decision.1

Every teen’s requirements will be unique, and it is important to look for help in facilities where customized treatment programs are available.There may be community support groups available to help teens once they have stopped using alcohol or drugs. You can get information about these services from doctors, local health centers and sometimes from the child’s school.

Offering Support for Adolescent Addiction

It is important that parents should not be judgmental when they discover a child is using addictive substances. No matter how bright and smart kids are, it is very easy for them to be exposed to drugs or alcohol, and very difficult for them to stay away from these substances.

Parents will achieve far more by being supportive of teens with addiction problems. No child deliberately sets out to become addicted. Addiction is a consequence of using drugs or alcohol, an activity that many young people first try just to see what it’s like.


Teens come under a lot of pressure to experiment with drugs or alcohol. This often happens when their peers have managed to get access to alcohol or drugs and everybody in the group takes the substance for fun. It takes a strong-willed person to resist. Parents can try to educate their children about the dangers of abusing substances. Parents can also teach them ways to turn down offers of dangerous substances from their friends.

Many parents are totally unaware of the extent of substance abuse among adolescents. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that almost 60 percent of teens who abused prescription drugs in the last year had taken drugs that were owned by a relative or friend.2 Carefully managing prescription drugs and alcohol in the home can remove the temptation for kids to experiment with these.



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