Teenage addiction to alcohol and illicit drugs and substances has become a huge problem in American society. There are no statistics to tell us exactly how many American teens suffer from addiction. However, experts believe that at least 9 out of 10 adults currently suffering from addiction started abusing substances in their teens. Furthermore, it is estimated that at least 1 in 5 American teens currently abuse drugs regularly.   

Why do teens use drugs, and what can we do to help?

What Is Substance Abuse and Addiction?

To understand what substance abuse and substance addiction are, it’s necessary to first understand the difference between the two. According to Haven House Recovery, substance abuse refers to overindulgence or overuse of a drug or a substance. Typically, overuse will determine when the drug use begins to cause problems in other areas of the drug user’s life. For example, an individual is overusing or abusing drugs when their drug use begins causing problems at school or work.

Addiction is different from abuse because it refers to psychological and physiological needs. It is classified as a medical disorder or a disease affecting a person’s brain, leading to physical and mental needs. Generally, abuse is considered controllable, whereas addiction is considered uncontrollable.

Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

Many consider taking drugs, alcohol, and other illicit substances as a form of rebellion against the rules of society. It provides teens with a certain thrill or sense of excitement that comes from doing something rebellious.

Experimentation is a big factor in teen drug use; nearly half of all new drug users looking to experiment with drugs and substances are 18 years old or younger. Another reason teens will try drugs is a desire to experiment or experience something new. Lastly, for all drug users, there is always the sense of getting high and escaping reality.

Understanding teen addiction and defining why teens are so keen to experiment is vital for a family dealing with drug abuse and addiction.

Here are some common reasons teens abuse drugs and other illicit substances:

  • Peer pressure
  • Emotional struggles
  • Curiosity
  • Stress
  • Desire to escape

How Can You Help Your Teen Fight Addiction?

Fighting addiction alone is already difficult for adults, more so for teens. Here are some things that you can do to help your teen overcome addiction:

 1. Communicate  

Always strive to communicate with a family member that is suffering from addiction. If you have experienced addiction yourself and recovered, relate your experiences to the addicted family member. It will show them that you have something in common and your communication is meant as empathy rather than instruction or judgment. 

If you want an addicted family member to make changes, you must convey that you are also prepared to make changes. By showing them support and willingness to adapt, they will feel understood and motivated to change. This way, you lead by example.

 2. Consult a Doctor  

If you suspect your teen is addicted to drugs or other substances, the best place to begin addressing the problem might be to talk to your doctor. Chances are, your doctor will be experienced in dealing with addiction; most doctors offer functional and friendly advice and make suggestions as to what procedures you should follow. If not, your doctor can refer you to an addiction specialist for more precise or in-depth advice.

More often than not, parents find it difficult or impossible to connect with their offspring going through addiction; this is where a professional counselor or therapist comes in. A professional counselor or therapist will have experience communicating and developing a relationship with an individual suffering from addiction.

Professional counselors and therapists understand addiction because many of them have been through it themselves, and they often have similar experiences that they can share with teens struggling with addiction.   

 3. Get Treatment  

Once you have been connected with a doctor, counselor, or therapist who specializes in treating addiction, you can start looking for special treatment programs and teen rehabilitation centers. Make sure you find a facility that specializes in working with teens.

 4. Show Your Love and Support  

Once you have convinced your teen to seek treatment, you must show continual support and encouragement. Whenever possible, take the opportunity to tell them you love them and that you are there for them. Dealing with addiction is not easy, but your love and encouragement will certainly help them become more determined to get back on track.

Key Takeaway

Millions of American teens are struggling with addiction, and it is estimated that 9 out of 10 Americans struggling with addiction have started their alcohol, substance, or drug abuse in their teenage years.

For battling teen addiction, there are numerous rehabilitation centers scattered throughout America. These can essentially help teens kick the addiction out and develop fruitful and productive lives.