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Dealing With Your Teenager’s Addiction: The Importance of Not Blaming Yourself and Getting Help

You know, we moms can really work ourselves into the hole without ever stopping to take a break. I guess that’s just how we’re designed. We do everything to make sure that our children are properly fed, clothed, and sheltered. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that we can’t do it all and be all things. A lot of times when things go wrong in our children’s lives, we like to blame ourselves. Maybe I was working too much? Maybe I should have paid closer attention?

The truth of the matter is, that sometimes we have to stop pointing the fingers at ourselves, and simply do what it takes to help and support our children.

The Teenage Years = The Uphill Battle

Oh boy, parenting a teenager is like no other responsibility in the world. They are past the age of being impressed by what you do, and it is at this age that they will begin to test and undermine your authority. Teenagers are moody, reckless, and unfortunately… they think they have all the answers. As hard as you might try to be there for your teen, they’re going to push you away as they try to identify with who they are among their peers.

It is during these years that they experiment with things that probably aren’t safe, including drugs and alcohol. And while you might assume you’d know if something were going on with your teen, there are many parents who don’t find out until they’ve already begun abusing.

Similarities in Teenage Behavior and Signs of Abuse/Addiction

Again, you might assume that you’d know if your teen were using drugs or drinking, but that is not always the case. Even if you’re a single mom working from the comforts of your own home, you can still miss the signs that your teen is in trouble. Don’t believe me? Consider the various similarities in teenage behavior and signs of abuse and addiction:

Common Teenage Behavior:

  • Changes in appearance
  • Isolation from family activities
  • Change in friends
  • Increased arguments
  • Mood swings
  • Acts of defiance home and in school
  • Reckless behavior that gets them in legal trouble ( such as driving before they’re legally eligible, vandalizing property, or even stealing merchandise)

Signs of Teen Abuse/Addiction:

  • Changes in appearance
  • Isolation from family and usual activities
  • Reckless behavior (driving under the influence, stealing money and valuable items)
  • Mood swings
  • Poor school performance
  • Change in friends

Don’t Blame Yourself

As you can see, there are plenty of similarities in typical teenage behavior and signs of substance abuse and/or addiction. Many moms begin to feel so guilty that they blame themselves. Again I say, we can’t do it all, or be there at all times to monitor our child’s behavior. When we don’t have the same support system as a married mother would have, you’re left to earn more income to cover their necessities as well as be the disciplinarian, nurturer, and protector all on your own. It’s a lot to deal with, and as such you should not sit and wallow in your own sorrows. At the end of the day, this will not get your teen the help they need.

Getting Help for Your Teen

If your teen has displayed any of the above signs and you believe that they could be abusing drugs or alcohol, you need to act sooner rather than later. Start off by having a conversation with them expressing your concerns for their behavior. Give them the chance to voice their opinion without interruption. You may be surprised that they simply tell you about their habits (because most of them don’t see it as dangerous, but as something cool to do). If it turns out that your child is using, getting them help is the next best step. Here are a few suggestions on what you can do:

  • Talk with a therapist specializing in teenage drug addiction
  • Reach out to your teen’s school guidance counselor for advice on what to do
  • Search for a young adult rehab program specifically for teens
  • Sign your teen up for group therapy so that they can see the dangers of long term use

Teens are going to be teens, is what I like to tell myself. While we’re busy trying to provide for and protect them against the world, there is always something that seems to get in the way (i.e. work, busy schedules, even other children). Instead of beating yourself up for the things you’ve missed, it is best to be the rock that you are to your teen. Talk with them, and get them the help they need so that they can become the successful adult you’ve always hoped they’d be.

 

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