How Adolescent Substance Abuse Affects the Family: Everything You Need to Know

How Adolescent Substance Abuse Affects the Family: Everything You Need to Know

By: Cumberland Heights

How adolescent substance abuse affects the familyWatching a loved one head down the path of addiction is devastating and if they’re an adolescent, the pain sears even deeper as we worry how this will affect their health, their future and their life as a whole. Adolescents are typically considered between the ages of 10 and 19 years of age, when many physical, mental and spiritual changes take place.

Addiction certainly disrupts these processes by causing our youth to think and act on cravings to use substances – and if you’re a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, guardian or other family member, there’s no doubt that it’s taking a toll on your health.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published a piece of literature that identifies several key themes that many families experience when someone in the family is abusing substances:


  1. Negativity – the family’s mood often drops, with family members complaining more or being more critical. Positivity often becomes ignored as some family members may feel guilty, angry, sad or hopeless.
  2. Parental inconsistency – as the family’s structure becomes less stable, both parents and teens may become confused on boundaries and the difference between “right” and “wrong”.
  3. Parental denial – some family members may fail to recognize that their teen is struggling. Unfortunately, this only perpetuates the addiction and neglect support for their teen.
  4. Miscarried expression of anger – family members who are stressed may find themselves repressing their anger, which may take forms in other ways.
  5. Self-medication – teens may be abusing substances to deal with a physical or psychological concern, or they may be experimenting.
  6. Unrealistic parental expectations – if teens are not given loving and supportive messages throughout their recovery, they may feel that they’ll never meet parents’ expectations.

In recognizing the many ways that teen addiction can affect the entire family, individuals can take preventative and proactive measures towards their family’s health and wellness. If you have a teen who is abusing substances, speak with someone from Cumberland Heights today – it’s time they seek help.


Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966 and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.

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