Addiction affects the lives of millions of individuals everyday… and not just those who are abusing drugs or alcohol. Relationships are often brought down by addiction, and friends and family suffer as they watch somebody they care about throw their life away carelessly.
During the teenage years, drug addiction is especially difficult for family to cope with. Your reaction are essential to any potential progress, but the most important thing to know is that a teenage drug addict should be treated differently than an adult who is struggling with the same problems.
You should never turn your back on a teenage drug addict. Instead, you should show support at all stages… by showing that you care and want the best for him or her.
Also, you should never punish a teenager. Remember that adolescence, much like the terrible twos, is all about showing independence and rebellious behavior (only this time it lasts much longer.) Punishing a teenager for using drugs is likely to backfire.
Instead, offer positive examples. If you have ever used drugs yourself, be honest about your own experiences and explain why you do not use drugs any more. Do not expect your child to “do as you say, not as you do” because a hypocritical parent is weak in the eyes of a teenager. Instead, be a positive role model. If you have never used drugs yourself, research the effects of drug abuse. Do not discuss text book reasons why drugs are bad… instead use real life examples.
The most important thing you can do for a teenage drug addict is to help, in every possible way (but never force!) them to see that they can make better choices for themselves. Give them the freedom to make their own choices, and to suffer their own consequences… but do not be the one who punishes them.
Finally, encourage a teenage drug addict to visit a drug rehab that deals specifically with teenage drug addiction. Teenage drug addiction is unique and needs to be handled personally.