(888) 448-0302 Talk to a recovery specialist 24/7

Choosing recovery close to home means your support system is just a few miles away.

  • 100% Confidential
  • Available 24/7
  • No Pressure to Commit
  • Multiple Financial Options Available
Call (888) 448-0302

We're Here To Help 24/7

How To Help A Child With An Addiction

by Landmark Recovery

August 27, 2019

If you are worried that your loved one may be at risk for abusing drugs, you may be correct. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people are most likely to begin abusing drugs, including tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs, during adolescence and young adulthood. By the time someone is a senior in high school, 70 percent will have tried alcohol, 50 percent will have taken an illegal drug, and nearly 40 percent will have smoked a cigarette.

With the high likelihood that your child may try or may already have tried a substance, it is important to know what to do if you are worried that your loved one has or may develop a problem when it comes to substance abuse. For those with children who are young adults or in high school, it may be best to know how to identify substance abuse issues and what to do if your child is dealing with these problems.

However, if your child is still young, you can still begin the conversation and hopefully avoid any issues related to substance abuse in the future. You may not know where to begin, but by following a few tips, you can get started off on the right foot.

How To Talk To Your Child

If you are concerned that your child may be using drugs or are worried that they may use drugs in the future, it is probably best to have a quick talk with them about the influences that drugs and alcohol can have on physical and mental functioning.

It is important to do this right. If you take the wrong approach in talking with your child about something this sensitive, they may be pushed in the opposite direction.

Don’t Lecture

When it comes to speaking with teenagers, it is best to not preach to them. Make sure this is an open dialogue. They shouldn’t leave the conversation being afraid to ask you a question or reach out to you for help. In fact, it may be best to start the conversation with a question such as “What do you know about marijuana?” or “What do you know about alcohol abuse?” Whatever they say to these questions, it is important not to shoot them down, but rather to lead them in the right direction. It is best to find common ground as often as possible and be sure to not say anything that could be considered judgmental. Instead, it is best to lead your child in the right direction and keep the conversation open.

Be Clear With Your Expectations

Oftentimes during these types of talks, parents will be fairly vague with what they say and it may lead the child to not know exactly what they should be doing. Instead of sticking to vague statements, it is best to be clear with your expectations. If you don’t want your child drinking at all you should tell them that. If you are okay with them drinking in moderation, tell them you understand that they will likely drink but under no circumstances should they operate or get in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.

Overall, it is best to make sure that this is a conversation that doesn’t end. It should be something that should be continued and talked about time and time again.

Does My Child Have A Substance Use Disorder?

Addiction is something that can happen at any age but is something that generally begins at a young age. If you are worried that your loved one may be dealing with a substance abuse issue there are a number of warning signs that you can notice. One overarching example of this is if your child starts behaving differently for no apparent reason, this can mean acting withdrawn, feeling depressed or tired, or acting hostile.

Some of the many signs that point to substance abuse issues include:

  • A change in peer group
  • Carelessness in terms of hygiene
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Skipping classes and school
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

What Substance Abuse Does To Your Child

There is clear and extensive evidence that substance abuse, both drugs , and alcohol, can have disastrous and long-term effects on a child and young adult’s development. Kids will grow dramatically in their early adolescent and teen years, both physically and mentally. The brain, in particular, has to develop in many different ways during this period.

Two of the most commonly used substances among adolescents include alcohol and marijuana, according to one study, one-quarter of 12th graders were found to have engaged in recent binge drinking and 32 percent of seniors had used marijuana in the previous year. Because of how commonly used these substances are, it may be best to learn what effects they can have on a young adult.


The early use of alcohol may have potentially long-lasting effects and can lead to damage in neural development.

During adolescence, the prefrontal cortex, a region in the brain that is involved with rule learning, memory, spatial learning, and emotional processing, goes through significant changes.

Similarly, the hippocampus, a brain region which is involved in learning and memory, was found to be affected by alcohol use. In fact, researchers found that the volume of the hippocampus was significantly smaller in adolescents with alcohol use problems than control subjects.

The early onset of alcohol use is also one of the strongest predictors of later alcohol dependence.


Using marijuana can have a number of negative consequences on mental cognition as it can lead to structural and functional changes in the brain.

Adult studies have shown that the use of marijuana often coincides with a decrease in performance in cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and processing speed. These effects may be even more severe for adolescents. One study even said that it can have “potentially detrimental effects in cognitive domains related to attention, learning, and memory”.

Generally speaking, studies have found that adolescent marijuana users were found to perform worse on tests for attention, learning, and memory. Reduced motivation was also a common issue.

Overall, the majority of data supports the idea that poorer cognitive performance is associated with adolescent cannabis use. However, the frequency and severity of use i likely plays a role in how much these affect somebody.

It should also be noted that many of these cognitive effects are likely to be resolved after longer-term abstinence.

Along with these two substances, there are a number of other illicit drugs and prescription medications that can lead to similar and worse problems. However, alcohol and marijuana are still the two most commonly used among adolescents.

Whatever problems that your loved one may be facing, they are causing serious, sometimes irreversible damage, to their minds and bodies. If your loved one is struggling with these problems, it may be time to get them some professional help.

How Can I Help My Child?

If you learn your child is using substances and has a serious problem, including addiction, you may not know exactly how to handle it or how to help your child. However, there are many online tools and resources that you can take advantage of to improve your child’s situation.

One of the best ways that you can start the treatment process would be by bringing your child to see a doctor that can screen for signs of drug use and other conditions. However, if you wish to you can contact an addiction specialist directly. In fact, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has a Find A Physician feature that can probably help you.

It can be hard to seek out treatment for a child with a drug problem and there will be a lot of hard work for all parties involved, but it is necessary if you want your teen to recover from addiction. Treatment is something that can interrupt academic, athletic, and personal life during teen years but should still seriously be considered if you care about your loved one’s health.

Drug And Alcohol Treatment

Before sending your child or loved one to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, you may want to learn more about what happens during treatment and how it can help.

There are two forms of treatment: inpatient and outpatient.

Inpatient refers to a 24-hour live-in facility in which a patient will go through a number of steps to achieve short-term sobriety. Inpatient rehabilitation normally involves a detoxification program in which the patient will be medically supervised as they overcome withdrawal symptoms that are characteristic of newfound sobriety.

Following the initial detoxification process, patients will be exposed to a number of therapies designed to help them learn about addiction and how it affects them specifically. It will also help them create strategies to overcome any cravings or triggers that they may experience.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the many types of therapies that patients will likely experience. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of individual therapy in which patients will work with clinicians to identify what triggers drug-using behavior in a patient. From there, clinicians will help patients develop strategies to actively avoid and overcome these triggers and cravings so that, when exposed to real-world stimuli, they can avoid relapse.

As for outpatient therapy, it is something that patients generally go to follow inpatient but can, in some cases, be used in place of inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment occurs about three days a week and is characterized by similar therapy methods that inpatient uses. The general difference between the two types of treatment is that inpatient is more comprehensive and used, in general, for more serious cases.

What’s Next

If you are interested in learning even more about treatment options and about the differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab, you can visit Landmark Recovery’s website. At Landmark, we help patients overcome whatever substance-related issues that they may be facing. If you are looking to help your loved one, please reach out to our Carmel drug and alcohol rehab admissions team today and we can help.

recovery specialist available 24 hours a day at landmark recovery

Choose Recovery Over Addiction

We're here 24/7 to help you get the care you need to live life on your terms, without drugs or alcohol. Talk to our recovery specialists today and learn about our integrated treatment programs.

About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.