Adolescence is a difficult time for anyone. Add drugs and alcohol to the equation and this period becomes tumultuous. This is tremendously frustrating and scary for anyone close to the affected teen. Adolescents have a difficult time being vulnerable to begin with and drug abusing teens particularly struggle in this area.
Where Is My Child?
Any parent of a child with a drug problem understands the radical transformation that occurs when drug abuse begins. The change can be sudden and dramatic. Some people try to rationalize the about-face by blaming it on hormones or some other disorder. It is true that the physiological changes that occur in adolescence can have an extreme effect on emotional balance. It is also correct that many teenagers suffer from undiagnosed mental and emotional disturbances. However, the denial of the possibility of drug and alcohol abuse can exacerbate any other ongoing issues. When a teenager is experiencing consistent difficulties the exploration of the possibility of a drug problem should be the first option. With drug and alcohol abuse comes dishonesty and deception. At this point any possibility of open communication is lost.
Family Communication In Recovery
Parents are sometimes frustrated by their child’s lack of openness after recovery. The expectation is that once the child is sober that he or she will have the desire to open up and share aspects of life that were once a mystery. The truth is that no one has discovered the cure for adolescence. Sober teenagers can still be moody, erratic, and awkward. The difference is that the recovering teen has tools to cope with these uncomfortable emotions. He is now back on track to grow and mature. With time a young person in recovery will recognize his shortcomings in family relationships and have a sincere desire to change. The parent can take a few simple steps to maintain peace of mind through the recovery process. These include:
- participate in 12 step parent support group meetings
- work with a counselor who understands adolescent and family recovery
- read literature specific to adolescents with substance abuse issues
Parents need the help and support of other parents who have worked through similar issues. The 12 step process allows a person to take an honest look at ways to improve his or her life. With an understanding of the problem it is much easier to be patient and allow recovery to take hold.