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Teens & Alcohol Abuse

I am writing this e-mail hoping that you might be able to shed some light on where it is that I should start your program with our son. I purchased your e-book My Out of Control Teen and found it to be very resourceful and helpful, although I am not quite sure where to start with our son. He will be 17 next month. We recently moved to a new home that we built which is closer to his school and friends. Within 2 days of our move from an acreage to the city he brokeup with his girlfriend of 1 year, quit his job, ranaway to a friends house, pierced his lip against our wishes, threatened suicide in a letter where he wrote that after being gone 5 days he went and pierced his lip and we would have to accept this and his other personal problem being suicidal thoughts. At this point I went at midnight searching for him and found him and brought him home. Since prior to this event things seemed great, he was on the honor role at school, happy, working good to his brother and sister, which is still good. We had to assume he might be on some kind of drugs. I insisted that he be drug tested and hormone testing for depression. I met with school counsellor and explained the situation. One week later he snuck out on a school night through his bedroom window and got drunk. Same thing one week later. After this we nailed his window shut. Which I should say when he returned home the first time his car was parked and phone taken away. He did not care that these privileges were gone. After the third time he ran away, because I confronted him about his report card and marks all in the 60's which is very poor for him.

We decided that this was the last straw and we were going to send him to Turnabout Residential Ranch for three months. He was very terrified of this, after talking and agreeing to see professional counsellors, we opted for a behavior contract and counselling. Things have been better but he is still angry and the counsellor said he is not depressed and that he is closed off at the appts. and as long as things are good at home he can have a break from counselling since he sits there not speaking anyway. He did get a job, but is working with his friends, and not focusing on school work. I feel that according to your e-book that he is at a stage 5. He also came home drunk both nights last weekend. I fear he is drinking way too much. He was not allowed out the next two days of the long weekend for this behavior. Our home life has always been good. We have been blessed with a wonderful family. There has never been any abuse. We are guilty of spoiling our kids to a degree, but have always expected them to work and helpout. I feel if I impose too many restrictions on him he will runaway again, even though that is one of the rules in the behavior contract. He is quiet, but has always been that way. He was never disrespectful until the last two months. He also lying about where he is going sometimes. His drug test was negative and he was tested for everything. He also took the earring out at our insistance, which was appreciated. I have always told him that we have rules because we love him. If you have any suggestions, they would be very much appreciated. I am still seeing the counsellor.



Hi J.,

You’ve listed numerous problems here. Alcohol abuse seems to be the most pressing issue. Moms & dads often assume that teenagers try alcohol and drugs to rebel or to "fit in" with their peer group. However, teenagers with undiagnosed emotional or behavioral problems often use drugs and alcohol as a way to relieve their frustrations. A depressed teen may self-medicate with alcohol to escape the terrible sense of hopelessness. Unfortunately, alcohol only exacerbates the problem.

Drugs like ecstasy and other club-drug uppers may even make them feel "normal" when for weeks they have felt miserable. The impact of such drugs on serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, chemicals in the brain that regulate mood, can be devastating for teenagers and adolescents. The damage they do to receptors in the brain can make the road back from depression even harder.

Often moms & dads approach the issue of drug and alcohol use as simply a discipline issue for a teen who is "bad." However, your teen may be sick. They may be unable to express to you exactly how they feel. Therefore, contacting a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents, is your first step in nailing down the source of the problem. If your teen is self-medicating to treat depression, anxiety, or other emotional or behavioral disorders, simply applying more discipline and creating more rules will not impact the underlying problem that led to substance abuse in the first place.

While some teenagers self-medicate to treat depression, other teenagers end up with a serious mental disorder due to abuse of drugs or alcohol. Abusive drinking or drug use can seriously undermine your teen's physical, emotional, and psychological health. Some drugs, such as methampetamines, can seriously affect the neurotransmitters, which are known as the "messengers of the brain." Recent studies suggest this damage can be long-lasting and even permanent. Many teenagers have the mistaken notion that club drugs are benign. In fact, while they might feel "good" while taking them, they can make it difficult for the teen to feel good naturally for a long time to come. The longer teenagers use these drugs, the more difficult treatment and the higher rate of relapse due to their inability to "feel good" or even "normal" because of the damage to their neurotransmitters.


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

1 comment:

James said...

Anyone ever hear that a stay-at-home parent cannot discipline their children because they spend more time with them than the parent who works? This is what I was told.

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