The disease of addiction affects individuals from all over the demographic spectrum, from old to young, female to male, any ethnicity or race or religion. However, statistics show that rates of substance abuse tend to increase as age decreases with young adults roughly 20 to 25 years old having the highest rate of chemical dependency. However, more and more frequently adolescents and teens are experimenting with alcohol and drugs, increasing the potential for these youths to suffer from addiction. With the frequent, repeated consumption of mind-altering, chemical substances, adolescents are causing structural and functional changes to their brains, which has been found to be the source of the disease of addiction. When adolescents become chemically dependent, they become willing to continue abusing alcohol and drugs despite awareness of the possible negative consequences.
It’s not always obvious whether an individual is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, but identifying chemical dependency in adolescents is particularly tricky since some of the signs of addiction in teens are also common behaviors of teens due to adolescence being a time of profound development and growth. However, there are a number of signs for which parents and other loved ones can look in effort to determine whether a teen could be suffering from or developing a substance abuse disorder.
When a teenager begins frequently abusing mind-altering substances, the teen may begin presenting him or herself differently, either intentionally or unintentionally. This can take the form of adopting a new style or way of dressing, or perhaps the adolescent begins to seem less concerned about their physical appearance by spending less time grooming and putting oneself together. There can also be changes in weight due to the effects that some substances can have on appetite. In terms of the effects of the drugs themselves, teens under the influence exhibit a number of telling behaviors, which include clenching or grinding teeth, becoming unusually clumsy or exceedingly drowsy, having excessive energy, seeming uninhibited, unprovoked laughter, slurred or rapid speech, periods of either sleeplessness or sleeping much more than usual, and pronounced changes in mood. Again, any of these behaviors exhibited singularly would be common among adolescents, but when a teenager exhibits many of these types of behavior it would seem that there’s likely a singular cause such as substance abuse.
If left unaddressed, experimentation with recreational substance abuse will almost surely develop into an addiction. This is especially dangerous for adolescent since the development of addiction during an individual’s youth will prohibit him or her from learning how to become an independent, self-sufficient adult. Moreover, since adolescents have not yet finished developing mentally and physically the effects of substance abuse and addiction are compounded, significantly hindering maturation. If parents have already had discussions with an adolescent substance abuser regarding the implications and danger of the addictive behavior to no avail, staging an intervention for the adolescent can be considered the next step. Interventions have a high rate of success in convincing those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction to begin the treatment and recovery process.
When the parents and loved ones of a teen decide the teen is in need of an intervention for his or her addiction, there is much preparation that must occur before the intervention can occur. Those participating in the intervention should be well-informed on the disease of addiction and its effects as well as prepare what each individual will say when addressing the teen during the confrontation; however, there are other important preparations that are crucial to the success of an intervention. An interventionist, or intervention specialist, is a professional whose job it is to help the loved ones of an addict prepare for, organize and stage an intervention. In particular, the interventionist is not only helpful with the planning of the confrontation, but his or her professional experience is useful for such things as preparing for the teen’s possible denial of the reality of the addiction or the possible rejection of treatment. Moreover, an interventionist helps to facilitate the intervention as it progresses toward a resolution, ensuring that each participant effectively communicates his or her thoughts and feelings as well as love and support for the teen addict.
The effects of alcohol and drug addiction on adolescents cannot be overstated; chemical dependency robs youths of their dreams, ambitions, potential, and their health. However, interventions have a very high success rate in helping those suffering from addiction to realize the full extent of their dependencies and their need of treatment. If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, Intervention Services can help. Call us today so one of our experienced specialists can help you or your loved one initiate the healing process and begin overcoming alcohol or drug addiction.
“An intervention is when an individual is engaged in unhealthy behaviors and an outside source comes in and influences that individual so that they change their behaviors and seek out healthy behaviors instead.”