When should you set up an intervention for your troubled teen?

You don’t need to wait until your kid hits rock bottom to schedule an intervention. Interventions can organized when behavior takes radical proportions and/or the teen is abusing substances. In fact, the earlier the intervention, the better. More here.

Is your kid shutting you out?

Our children grow and develop so fast, we are proud of them, support them, and always wish and hope for the best. Going through adolescence is difficult for teenagers, but so is for the parents. But, how do you hold your grip and act wisely when your child starts shutting you out, behaves violently, or shows signs of substance abuse? A family intervention may be an option fit for your family’s needs.

What is an intervention?

An intervention is an opportunity to speak to your teen and open up the issue of possible drug abuse, mental health problems, or systemic family issues in an non-threatening way. The tone of the confrontation is very important because doing an intervention without the proper professional help may result in failure.

Generally, interventions include loved ones, family members and/or friends who are willing to point out to the teen that their behavior is not positive and leading to self-destruction. The participants in the intervention express their feelings and share how the teen’s behavior has affected them. The goal of interventions is to communicate with teens in order for them to listen and accept help.

You suspect your teen is abusing alcohol or drugs but have no evidence?

It’s understandable that even though parents feel it in their gut when something is off, they avoid staging an intervention without solid proof of drinking or drug abuse. What can you do to be sure that there is a genuine concern and need for an intervention? Here are a few ideas:

1. Pay attention. Observe your teens usual habits and behavior. Drastic changes in appearance, school duties, friends, etc. can be an indication of bigger problems. Keep in mind that during this period, children tend to change significantly, so you’d be careful not to interpret certain behaviors for something they are not.

2. Keep track of the alcohol and prescription medications stocks. Or even better, keep them in a safe place out of your teens reach (eg. medicine cabinet). It is important to know exactly how much of your medications or alcohol you have left. This way, you will be sure to know when pills go missing or that alcoholic beverages disappear without explanation.

3. Snoop around. No matter how wrong it sounds to search through your child’s belongings, if you are extremely suspicious they might be using drugs, you can search for paraphernalia or drug stashes. Evidence such as this is enough to confirm that you need to act… and you need to act fast.

4. Drug test. You don’t necessarily need to take your teen son or daughter for a drug test at a clinic. There are drug tests you can do at home that test sweat, saliva, or surfaces for drug residue. Also, you can get a hair sample tested at a laboratory, which would be a clear proof of whether your child is abusing drugs or not.

When is the right time to intervene?

The old popular belief that people who abuse alcohol, prescription drugs or illicit drugs need to “hit rock bottom” and ask for help does not apply any more. Most teens are not able to detect the underlying reasons for their addictive or destructive behavior and that’s why to sooner an intervention is staged – the better for your child.

Interventions are usually organized when the behavior takes radical proportions and the teen starts abusing substances. But, sometimes interventions are needed much earlier, or when abuse patterns have not yet taken hold.

You see, teens tend to turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism when there are some other problems under the surface. Anxiety, depression, other mental health conditions, traumatic events, or lack of coping skills are all underlying reasons that need to be attended and resolved. So, if your teenager looks troubled and starts displaying weird behaviors, you need to pay close attention and have open conversations, to be able to determine when extra help is required.

When is the time to call in professionals?

A troubled teen with a substance abuse problem and/or other co-occurring disorders causes worry to the whole family. Our advice is to seek help from a professional and licensed intervention expert from the very beginning. Parents need to go through their own emotional roller coasters of disappointment, sadness, confusions, feeling helpless or mad, etc. This is simply not a good time for you to be dealing with everything on your own. This is when an interventionist is a good idea.

Interventionists are people who understand how your teenager is feeling, as well as the pain and suffering that parents are going through. Remember, adolescents don’t always need intervention for substances ONLY. Problems may occur in the form of eating disorders, bullying, cyber-bullying, social-shaming, gambling addiction, or extreme behavioral issues. No matter the problem, it’s good to have a professional on the scene with a cool head and expertise in taking the lead towards resolving issues. The most important mission is to have your child accept the help offered.

Family intervention for teens questions?

Have any additional questions we didn’t get to address in this article? Or would you like to share your personal take on the issue? Feel free to post your comments and questions in the section below. We try to respond to all legitimate queries with a personal and prompt reply.

About Addiction Blog

Ivana Janevska researches and writes about substance abuse disorders for Addiction Blog. She is driven to help teens find appropriate addiction treatment so that they can make the most of life.

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