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Information for Parents: Teen Problem Drinking or Drug Use

How Your Teen's Drug Use Makes You Feel

​​​If your teen is using alcohol or other drugs, you may be scared and worried. You may also feel very frustrated.

Trying to talk to your teen might cause fights. You may both say things you wish you hadn’t said. It may seem like no matter what you try, it’s not the right thing. Sometimes the more you try to help your teen; the worse things seem to get. Often, the harder you try to point out the problem, the more your teen resists.

There is Support for You

Responding to someone else’s problem is hard work. You don’t have to do it alone.

An Alberta Health Services (AHS) addiction counsellor can talk with you about your concerns about your teen. The counsellor can also help you to feel better.

There are no fast and easy answers, but there is help to look at options and choose the approach that will work best for you. You can phone for help, see a counsellor, or go to a program for family members.

What You Need to Know

Your teen didn’t start using drugs because of you. Teens use for many reasons and the reasons can change over time. People use alcohol or other drugs from many reasons, but stress or being bored are often the start. It’s also normal for teens to feel pressure to use from friends and the world around them. Using drugs is one way teens may try to cope.

Using drugs doesn’t mean your teen is weak. We all make mistakes. Everyone has a responsibility to do their best to correct their mistakes. You can help your teen decide to be responsible, but you can’t do it for him or her.

What You Can Do

If you’ve been dealing with your teen’s alcohol or other drug use for a long time, you are probably tired. It’s time to take a step back and look at what you can do and realize there are things that aren’t in your control. For example, you can keep talking with your teen, but you can’t make him or her stop using alcohol or other drugs.

Don’t give up on your teen. But, fight the battles you can win. Learn everything you can about the drugs your teen is using. Learn the truth about alcohol and other drugs—that might take away some of the fear. Not everyone who uses drugs gets hooked. Not everybody who tries drugs keeps using. Learn how to talk to your teen so he or she will listen. Learn how to listen so your teen will keep talking to you. A counsellor can teach you how to talk to your teen about alcohol and other drug use.

You may want to evaluate how bad your teen’s use is. Alberta Health Services (AHS) can help you find a counsellor in your area. It may also help to read the information called Helping teens evaluate their drug use and How bad is my teen’s drinking or drug use? This will help you decide if your teen needs an intervention.

It’s important to take care of yourself and make sure you put energy into your relationships with friends and family members.

Who You Can Talk To

It’s important to know that you aren’t alone. Other parents have been where you are and many are in the same place right now. You can learn from other people who are going through (or have gone through) the same types of situations. The more you know about addiction, the more you can help yourself and your teen.

Support groups (e.g., Al-Anon and Nar-Anon) have helped many people just like you. Meetings are private and you don’t have to tell people your full name. Right now, you might feel confused and overwhelmed with everything going on in your life. When you’re ready, take time to learn more about support groups.

To find a support group in your area, ask a counsellor or do a search for Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

Your friends and family can help. Keep in touch with​ them. Often, others know more about your situation than you think. Friends and family can listen when you need to talk.

Alberta Health Services offers a wide range of addiction and mental health services. For individuals looking for information for someone they care about, or for themselves please call 811.​

Current as of: January 6, 2017

Author: Addiction & Mental Health, Alberta Health Services