As parents and community leaders, it’s incredibly hard to see our teens struggle with substance abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) highlights that people are most likely to begin abusing drugs by adolescence, and this can be due to a number of reasons:
- Wanting to try new experiences
- An attempt at dealing with problems or to get a “boost” in school
- Peer pressure
- And more
Violence, physical or emotional abuse, mental illness, and positive associations with drugs at home can greatly increase an adolescent’s chances of abusing drugs – but some adolescents naturally have less impulse control, and their personality traits can give them a need for “excitement” – which can also pave the way towards addiction. Male adolescents are often don’t get enough attention when it comes to substance abuse, because of the common theory that “boys will be boys” or the assumption that substance use will simply be a phase in their life. If not addressed early, male adolescent substance abuse can transform to lifelong addiction – and if this is something your concerned about for your teen, it’s time to seek help.
Signs Your Pre-Teen Is Abusing Drugs
First and foremost, you’ll be able to tell if your teen is abusing substance by the way they interact with you, as well as their general behavior and how they’re related to their peers and schoolwork. Your pre-teen may suddenly change their peer group – and if you keep a close eye on their friends, you may easily be able to tell if they’ve started spending time with friends who are also using. Since the adolescent brain is still developing, drugs can have a significant impact on the way your pre-teen behaves. Watch out for these signs:
- No longer caring about appearance
- Difficulty performing well in school
- Missing class or skipping school altogether
- Lack of interest in activities they were once interested in
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Damaging relationships with family members and friends
One man, now an adult, shared his story of struggling with marijuana abuse as an adolescent through Prevent Teen Drug Abuse. Here is an excerpt from his story:
“My first real hit of marijuana at age 12 sparked a slow death…I continued to smoke and soon became a shell of a person, paranoid and emaciated after an eating disorder that just popped up out of nowhere.”
He noted that all while he was struggling with this addiction, he received little to no help – because smoking marijuana was concerned such a “norm” that nobody perceived him to be going through any trouble.
How Can We Help Our Adolescents?
Previous studies have explored the many approaches we can take towards helping male adolescents recover from addiction. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that readiness to change can have a significant impact for adolescents to get the most out of treatment – but how can we help them feel “ready”?
There are many elements to treatment that can help our adolescents feel ready for healing and restoration in recovery:
Adolescents continue to face physical, mental and spiritual issues that hold them back from living a life that’s most meaningful to them. As a 2018 study published in the journal Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment denoted that 12-Step programs can not only help adolescents become more engaged in treatment but can also lead to greater abstinence over time.
Many adolescents feel they’re either invincible, or that they’re all alone in their problems. Service work is a clear reminder that they’re human – and that in being part of the human race, they have something special to offer others. In 2016, researchers published a study in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly which found that higher service to others was related to reduced recidivism, reduced relapse, and greater character development.
Exploration and Activities
Despite struggling with substance abuse, adolescents respond to fun, encouraging activities that get them fully emerged in the present moment. Horseback riding, ropes courses, rock climbing, canoeing and so much more can give adolescents the boost they need to build a sense of community, push past their barriers and learn more about themselves – all at the same time.
Qualified special education teachers can provide adolescents with the support they need to get through school while pursuing treatment. If you have a teen who needs help, they can recover without sacrificing one of the most important milestones of their life.
Cumberland Heights: Adolescent Extended Care
If your teen is ready to tackle their addiction, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. Our Adolescent Extended Care program provides everything your adolescent needs and more.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.