Written By:Amber Hollingsworth,LPC

Having a child who is using drugs or alcohol is both frustrating and scary. It can be difficult to know if the behavior is regular adolescent experimentation or if a bigger problem is developing.

There is a predictable dynamic that sets up between parents that have a teen or young adult using drugs/alcohol.

Typically, one of the parents has a very strong instinctual reaction, and they KNOW something is very wrong. The other parent usually feels like it’s just “kids being kids.”  This is so frustrating because not only are you worried to death about your kid, but you can’t get your spouse to take it seriously.

This situation often leads to a lot of tension in the marriage, and a “good cop/bad cop” scenario begins to develop.  The more one parent gets emotionally reactive, the more the other parent minimizes the situation.

Don’t feel bad if this is your situation, IT IS WAY MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK!

Sometimes it is hard to know whether you are just being overly worried, or if it is a true crisis!

There are several factors to consider:

1.  Is it just normal developmental experimentation?

2.  Is it a symptom of some other problem like depression, anxiety, or ADD?

3.  Or, is it a true Substance Use Disorder?

At Hope For Families Recovery Center we specialize in helping families untangle these types of situations. We have a team of specialist who are trained in both mental health and addiction.

There are some subtle differences between a kid who is experimenting and one who is developing a problem. Here are 3 big warning signs that it may be more than just “A kid being a Kid.”

1. Have you tried all the normal parenting techniques to get it to stop (restrictions, taken their car, taken their phone, etc…)? If none of these things seem to work for more than a short period of time, then that is a good indicator that some sort of problem is developing.

2.  Another big warning sign is that the teen/young adult begins to lose interest in hobbies and activities that they previously really enjoyed.

3. One of the biggest warning signs is if you and your spouse seem to be at odds with each other about this problem!  This is a very strong indicator that a Substance Use Disorder may be developing.  If you need help getting a united parenting front you may want to check out our class on parenting a kid with a Substance Abuse Problem.  

There are many other signs and symptoms. We can help you figure out if this is really a problem you should be worrying about or if it is just a phase that your kid will probably grow out of as they get older.

If you’re not sure what the next step is, schedule a free 15 minute consult with one of our specialists, and we will help you decide if it really is a problem. If it is a problem, then we can advise  you on what to do next.

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