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Helping an addicted teenager

helping an addicted teenager

If you suspect that someone you care about is possibly becoming addicted or dependent then it’s a good thing to try and get some professional assistance for helping an addicted teenager.  That someone may be a spouse or a child, a parent or a cousin, a co-worker or a neighbour or a friend.  The drug of choice may be alcohol, marijuana,cocaine, amphetamines (‘uppers’), or (‘downers’), or some combination of these drugs.  What it is does not matter;what matters is that the person is abusing or misusing it, and that this is causing problems for him or her and for you.

There is a lot you can do for someone who is using drugs to cope. People many not need to go to a rehab centre for example, but doing nothing can sometimes be the worst things we can or can’t do. In other words, if it looks like help is needed get help. A centre like ours is known as an alternative to rehab or preventative addiction recovery. People get to heal without being told they need to call themselves an addict for the rest of their lives. Everything from online 12 week courses, through to counselling and retreats about self discovery are available for our teenagers today.  

These problems may range all the way from mild to erratic behaviours on the individual’s part to major personality changes and physical deterioration.  Maybe the individual is performing poorly at work. Maybe there’s been one or more DWIs(driving while intoxicated) or DUIs (driving under the influence).  Maybe things are tense around the house (or office).  Maybe you have caught the person telling lies, breaking promises, or making excuses that are directly related to using. Maybe there have been occasions when the person has been hospitalised, or taken to detox, or jailed. Or maybe you simply have the uneasy feeling that something is wrong somewhere, and chemical dependency could be the cause.

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Long-term effects on the brain from continued, heavy drug use include:

  • Dramatic changes in the brain’s neurons and brain circuits
  • Development of a tolerance that requires more drugs to achieve the same effect
  • Overstimulation of the “reward circuit” in the brain

Fortunately for that person, your interest is finding solutions for an addicted teenager you want to help.  At the moment though, you are not sure how to go about it.  Furthermore, the person does not seem willing to accept help from you or anyone else. In fact, he or she may loudly deny that a problem exists, or even blame it on you! Helping an addicted teenager is not always easy. Their responses can be defensive and illogical. 

If you are like most people, you may believe that there is nothing you can do except wait for the person to ‘hit bottom’ and then try to pick up the pieces.  For more than 25 years, our task at the Johnson Institute has been to prove that just the opposite is true.  Waiting is too dangerous.  It is also cruel.  It allows an already bad situation to get worse.  If a friend wanted to jump off abridge, would you let him do it before you reached out a hand to stop him?  Of course not; and neither must you stand by and watch the chemically dependant person plumb the depths of suffering and despair before doing something about it. You don’t have to bide your time until your family breaks up, or the person is fired from his or her job – or kills someone in a car accident.  You can reach out now.

You may also believe that only the experts – physicians, psychiatrists, chemical dependency counsellors – are equipped and able to help the chemically dependent person.  That is not necessarily the case.  Another thing we have learned at the Johnson Institute is that anyone who sincerely wants to help can help.  You do not need a clinical background or special expertise.  You should, however, have some understanding of what chemical dependency is and how it affects its victims, and this is the focus of Part I of this book, “Learning About Chemical Dependency.”  With this information in hand, you may then decide whether to seek help form one of the many capable professionals with experience in this field.

You have already taken the first step by reading this far.  While subsequent steps may not be quite as easy, they are just as achievable. For more information about helping an addicted teenager contact us at Pathways. We are here to help with many solutions. A drug rehab centre, one of our many online programs or time in our centre are great options for anybody concerned with helping an addicted teenager, themselves or another with addiction issues. 

The important thing about helping an addicted teenager is to take action – and soon.  By definition, a chemically dependant person is out of touch with reality.  Through a process called intervention, you can play an important role in moving the person you care about back toward reality, recovery, and a richer, fuller, longer life.  Thousands of concerned people have done it for their relatives and friends; thousands of chemically dependent persons are alive and well today as proof that it works. Part II of this book, “Intervening With Chemical Dependency,” describes this process and the steps involved in preparing for it, initiating it, and seeing it through.

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