The Role Of Family In Prevention And Treatment Of Teen Substance Abuse

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Family involvement in the prevention and treatment of teen substance abuse is no doubt vital to the process. Family based approaches to prevention and treatment have been found to be effective over time. They are advised to be used since teens will be living with parents and maybe siblings or other family members under normal circumstances.

How Can Family Hurt Or Help Prevention And Treatment

When it comes to prevention, it usually goes one of out of many ways which can include the following.

  1. Prevention usually starts with the parents. The first thing to note is that if you do not want your child to use drugs then you should not use it yourself. Children notice how their parents relate and react to drugs. They form their first opinions about drugs based on that. Parents should also be clear and consistent about their values. Children should know that they can trust their parents’ words and actions.
  2. Teaching children health and productive ways to manage stress and emotional pain. Parents should teach their children not to turn to substance use when they are experiencing emotional hurt or feeling stressed. They should show them other ways of managing stress which will have no negative side effects. It goes without saying that parents themselves should manage stress without turning to the use of substances too.
  3. Parents having productive engagement on substance use with their teens. Teens with parents who have engaging relationships with each other- reassuring them of their love for each other and confidence in them, are less likely to develop substance abuse. Parents should have productive and open talks with their children about substance use- at the same time not lecturing or cajoling them. This will empower children and help them to make better and informed decisions.
  4. On the other hand, there are parents who believe that their children can engage in substance use as long as they do not take it too far. The danger with this is that it is hard to find that point where it becomes ‘too far’. Also, parents are not with their children 24/7 and cannot monitor their usage. Some of these parents used substances when they were teenagers without becoming addicted or dependent and believe that their children can do the same thing. This is a very risky approach because the process of substance dependence is different for everyone.

In relation to treatment, the family of a teen who is undergoing treatment for substance abuse is advised to go through the treatment with the teen. Family can either help or hurt the process of recovery and this is why they are incorporated into the process so that they learn how to help the process.

Family therapy is a main treatment approach for involving the family. It not only helps the teen struggling with substance dependence but provides support for the family members and help them learn how to help their loved one. Family therapy also helps discover if there is any co-dependent behaviour within the family unit that is aiding the teen’s substance abuse- thereby improving the overall mental health of the entire family. Besides family therapy, joining a support group or attending 12-step meetings with the family member who is struggling with addiction is also advised.

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