Importance of Early Intervention for Teen Drug Abuse

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You’re cleaning your child’s room and find a bag of pills, or maybe school calls saying he’s been caught drinking on school grounds. Perhaps a neighbor calls saying they spot your child smoking marijuana down the street. Whatever the situation, one question comes to mind, “What do I do now?”

Finding out your child has been using drugs or alcohol is devastating. Even if you’ve made every effort to talk openly with your child, there are many factors that can influence a teen’s decision to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

When you discover that your teen may be using drugs, the way you respond to the situation can be the difference between life and death.

First, realize you’re not alone. Drug use among teens and young adults is more prevalent than parents or teachers may realize. 21 percent of sixth graders reported that they had drunk alcohol at least once in the past year. However, only five percent of their parents said their sixth grader had tried using alcohol. More than 68 percent of 12th graders reported that they had drank alcohol at least once in the past year, while only 41 percent of parents thought their teen was using alcohol.

Early intervention for adolescents at the first signs of drug use is important for several reasons. Substance use before the brain has fully developed increases a teen’s risk for future drug addiction. Research shows that the transition from casual use to regular use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs often occurs within three years. This means that if a teenage boy begins experimenting with marijuana at the age of 12, he will be using regularly by age 15. Also, the prognosis for recovery improves significantly the younger a person stops using. The earlier treatment begins from first use, the quicker a person can get to one year of abstinence. Once someone reaches one year of sobriety, his or her chances of sustaining recovery improve significantly.

If your child has been using drugs or alcohol, contact Pyramid Healthcare and schedule an appointment for an intake evaluation as soon as possible. Because of the unique needs of adolescents, we offer specialized treatment programs for teens. Following evaluation with a trained substance abuse counselor, he or she will recommend a treatment modality that will be most successful for your child.

Written by Shaylyn Forte, LPC, CAADC

References:

  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/WebFiles_TEDS_SR142_AgeatInit_07-10-14/TEDS-SR142-AgeatInit-2014.htm
  2. http://archive.samhsa.gov/data/2k10/DataReview/OAS_DataReview003CohortAnalysis.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4063551/
  4. https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/underage-issues/alcohol-drugs-and-youth

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