The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism gives some practical strategies for bringing up the subject of alcohol use with your child:
Encourage conversation. Encourage your child to talk about whatever interests him or her. Listen without interruption and give your child a chance to teach you something new. Your active listening to your child’s enthusiasms paves the way for conversations about topics that concern you.
Ask open-ended questions. Encourage your teen to tell you how he or she thinks and feels about the issue you’re discussing. Avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
Control your emotions. If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger. Instead, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
Make every conversation a “win-win” experience. Don’t lecture or try to “score points” on your teen by showing how he or she is wrong. If you show respect for your child’s viewpoint, he or she will be more likely to listen to and respect yours.
Draw the line. Set clear, realistic expectations for your child’s behavior. Establish appropriate consequences for breaking rules and consistently enforce them.
Offer acceptance. Make sure your teen knows that you appreciate his or her efforts as well as accomplishments. Avoid hurtful teasing or criticism.
Understand that your child is growing up. This doesn’t mean a hands-off attitude. But as you guide your child’s behavior, also make an effort to respect his or her growing need for independence and privacy.
Drug abuse used to be considered a moral failing, with addicts written off as willful and incorrigible. Today, teen drug abuse is more likely to be seen as a physiological disorder, a disease that can be treated and eventually conquered. Approaches to treatment for drug abuse vary, but people in treatment all learn how to change their behavior and reduce their cravings. Relapses are common, but people who stick with drug addiction treatment and can reclaim healthy, productive lives. Drug addiction certainly can be treated.
While drug abuse used to be viewed as being, at best, a weak, flawed person’s response to life’s pressures and temptations, today most professionals who work with teen drug addiction consider it a medical condition, on the same plane as diabetes or heart disease. And just as someone with diabetes or heart disease has to institute lifestyle changes and take medications, teens in treatment for drug addiction learn behavioral changes and often take medications as part of their treatment regimen. This change in attitude has helped boost hope for many teens and their families. In fact, one of the reasons drug abuse is so prevalent is that many folks who need treatment for drug abuse don’t get it.
The U.S. Department of Labor posted a report recently of one study showing that 47 percent of men and 41 percent of women in need of treatment for abuse of illicit drugs are not treated. Much of this gap between need and actual treatment comes from inadequate funding for drug abuse treatment and inadequate education about drugs and drug treatment. There are many ways in which drug and alcohol addiction can be treated, and that treatment can lead to permanent recovery if the person fighting the addiction makes a real commitment to a treatment program and sticks with it.
According to several studies, drug treatment reduces drug use by 40 to 60 percent, but, typically, only for people who stay in treatment for three months or longer. Treatment for drug and alcohol abuse is a long process that involves not only recovery from the physical effects of substance abuse but therapy that allows drug abusers to understand the psychological and social roots of their addictions and learn new ways of coping. As much as they need to stop using, they also need to recognize the emotional triggers that can cause them to start using again. That’s why it’s important to choose the treatment program that best serves the individual needs of the recovering addict.