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The Relationship Café

Teenagers and Addiction

There are 22.6 million Americans addicted to drugs and alcohol. To say that America has a problem is an understatement. There are nearly 35 million families with children at risk for drug and alcohol addiction.

But what if this American tragedy strikes close to home? Specifically, what do you do if your son or daughter lapses into drug or alcohol addiction? This is a question facing far too many parents today.

There was a time when our greatest fear as parents was whether our children would flunk a class or get into a fight at school. We worried about them picking up bad habits, perhaps learning language that was didn’t fit our family values. Those are no longer our greatest fears. We now fear that our children will be among the statistics: the average age for a youth experimenting with illegal drugs is 14.5 years of age!

As parents, this ought to concern us. I explain in depth in my latest book, Breaking Everyday Addictions, that drugs, alcohol and other addictive activities and substances, steal our freedom. They lead to a downward spiral of loss: loss of health, loss of vitality, loss of relationships, loss of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Not only does teenage drug and alcohol addiction affect the teenager, but of course the entire family as well. Listen to a recent email from the mother of a daughter who is engaging in risky behavior, as well as involvement with drugs and alcohol.

Dear Dr. Hawkins. My husband and I are sick to death about what we see happening to our sixteen year old daughter. She has always been a good girl, but lately she has been hanging out with a bad crowd, and we suspect she is involved in drugs, alcohol and possibly sexual activity. Her grades have been dropping and she has developed an attitude against our authority. Please understand that this is all unusual for her as she has always been a very wonderful daughter.
My question is this: What can parents do to protect their children from these kinds of activities. We hate to see such a wonderful daughter turn to something that could change her life forever. Please offer help.
       --Troubled Mom

Dear Troubled.
Your concerns echo those of thousands of other parents watching their children make disastrous choices that often alter their lives. Let me offer several things to consider in regards to your daughter and what you can do as concerned parents.

First, I am glad that you and your husband are interested parents, concerned about your daughter’s welfare. I wish this were true of all parents. Your concern and involvement will certainly help your daughter, and at some level she appreciates your love and caring.

Second, your concern and involvement must lead to closer supervision. Know where your daughter is and what she is doing. Don’t be afraid to step in and assist your daughter in understanding that responsibility leads to freedom, while irresponsibility leads to less freedom. Make certain that you are reinforcing that principle. Learning the impact of violating boundaries now can save her from a lot of heartache later in life.

Third, ask questions. Talk to your teenager. Studies confirm that involved parents, those who ask questions, actually help their children make better choices. Fear of asking the tough questions won’t help your daughter. Communicate with her. Talk to her. Maintain a relationship with her.

Fourth, don’t be afraid to insist on random urinanalyses if you suspect drug and alcohol involvement. If your daughter is using illicit drugs, it is likely she will need treatment. Also, don’t be afraid to seek assistance from your local teen drug and alcohol treatment facility. Get information. Take your daughter with you to talk to the professionals. Know the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol use and abuse.

Finally, maintain high moral and spiritual values in your home. The Scriptures are clear that when we “Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he (she) is old he (she) will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22: 6) These are powerful truths/ promises that will help you in the days ahead.

I’d like to hear from other parents. What would you like to tell these parents? What have you done that has helped or hurt your teenager?

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2008 2:14 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Teenagers and Addiction

I read the email from "Trouble" and I too have a 16 yr old daughter who I know has done drugs and is hanging out with the wrong crowd. At this time she is in a rehab center. She has been in there since July and at times I am hopeful but there are times I am reminded that old habits are hard to die. She will be coming home soon and I'm afraid she will begin old habits. I didn't raise her knowing God. As a child my mother took us to church but as I got older I stopped and my daughter is paying the price for that. I"m afraid of losing her completely. I am trying to find a way to get her see how her choices of put her in this predicament.
Left by hopeful39 on Sep 24, 2008 11:32 AM

# RE: Teenagers and Addiction

Hi, I'm bornagain 25yr, I had my daughters in church since birth. Alcoholism in my grandparents on down to my generation, until my salvation. I never became alcoholic, but my one daughter started drinking at 14 and drug. Witchcraft too. Well I had to send her to live with her grandmother. I started waring for my daughter like never before. I stared the devil in the face and told him he lost her, she's mine and you can't have her she belongs to the Lord. I took authority, I fought for her, and I knew I won when I first started fighting the battle. I declared my daughters salvation, I declared her freedom, I declared her deliverance. I kept battling in the spirit realm for my daughter. I said with authority my daughter loves the Lord with all her heart soul and strength. I declared the word of God over her, and declared it again and again. Two years later my daughter accepted the Lord and became a new girl, full of love and loving the Lord. I must keep it up, I trust in the Lord! AMEN!
Left by loveyou777 on Oct 13, 2008 12:59 PM

# RE: Teenagers and Addiction

I am a troubled parent who's son is on drugs. My husband and I have been going round and round trying to manage this situation. I have sought some help with a small group of ladies. My son overdosed last week. I have a counseling session for him today to see a drug councelor. I'm hoping he will go. He is 18 so we don't have a lot of leverage like we would have if he were a minor. I'm hearing the only way to deal with this is tough love and boundries. He lives in our house right now. I'm hearing we are making it too comfortable for him. My husband thinks he can control our son's behavior. I'm finding out we probably can't. I'm praying for strength to make the tough decisions that may be coming our way. Any words of encouragement???????
Left by patty on Jan 20, 2009 7:38 AM

# RE: Teenagers and Addiction

I will probably say what you have heard from others--be strong, and courageous. Your son's life is at stake and making things comfortable is really not helpful, and is in fact hurtful. Consider an Intervention where those who love your son, along with a professional, make it clear you love him but you cannot tolerate this behavior. In the final analysis, we either enable behavior or we set boundaries to it.
Please let me know if I can help. See my website for my services.
Dr. David
Left by yourrelationshipdoctor on Jan 20, 2009 12:26 PM