Ask any parent what they think about parenting and almost every single one of them will say it’s rewarding and their greatest accomplishment. But parenting is scary. You’re responsible for the safety and upbringing of another person — in addition to taking care of yourself. So it’s devastating when you find yourself in the insidious world of teen substance abuse.
How did we get here?
Where did I go wrong?
How can I fix it?
Finding out your teenager has a substance abuse problem is scary and stressful, but you’re not alone. According to a survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of new drug users in a year is about 2.8 million. That works out to be about 7,800 new drug users each day. More than half of those users are under the age of 18.
Teen Substance Abuse is Not a Phase
The teenage years are tumultuous to begin with, which is why parents are so quick to write off an uncharacteristic behavior as “a phase.” Teenagers naturally experiment; it’s how they figure out their place in the world. They experiment with identity, independence, and boundaries. Many teens also experiment with drugs and alcohol. Having been teenagers themselves, many parents will excuse drug use as experimentation… a natural phase for teenagers. But teen substance abuse is not a phase.
No one sets out to become an addict. It often starts out as fun social use, “experimentation,” or an intended one-off. Catching a teen substance abuse problem early on can save both you and your child a lot of stress, illness, money, heartache, and even death.