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5 Things to do If Your Teenager is Developing a Dependency Problem

Dealing with a teenager in the house can be challenging for any parent. The developmental changes during puberty can leave pre-teens and teenagers agitated, rebellious, and distant from you. It is natural to feel like you’re losing your child and that you no longer have a solid bond, but that is not the case. While teens may seem complicated on the surface, deep down, they are immensely vulnerable and need your love more than ever. 

Teenagehood is an awkward phase between adulthood and childhood. Your child may seem grown up but still has to develop intellectually and emotionally. This makes them prone to insecurities, leaving them impressionable and often easy to peer pressure. To fight these feelings and gain a semblance of control, it is not uncommon for your teen to start indulging in substance abuse. 

Whether they do it for social acceptance or to find escape, dependency issues are risky. As a parent, you must learn subtle shifts in your child’s behavior and address them before they become a full-blown problem. 

Here’s how you can support them:

  1. Look For Warning Signs

Substance abuse cannot stay hidden. Once your teen starts indulging, it reflects in their behavior and physical appearance. You may notice drastic differences such as mood swings, massive loss in weight, disruptive behavior, a drop in academic performance, and an immediate change in their friend’s circle. However, don’t confront your child; instead, have a civilized conversation with them. If you think your teenager needs help immediately, look into treatment options instead of allowing their dependency to stew further. 

Treating substance abuse is a layered process. The inpatient facilities you contact will evaluate your child first to determine how deep the problem runs. This makes it easier to devise an appropriate treatment route. Some services can include therapy, counseling, assisted detox, and encouraging them to develop healthy coping mechanisms. You must be with your teen every step of the way, but don’t try to push for results. Let them know if they ever feel overwhelmed, they can lean on you for comfort.

  1. Don’t Fight Fire With Fire

No one likes being backed into a corner, especially if they did something wrong. When you’re asking your teen about their dependency problem, expect them to retaliate and get angry. They may not want to talk to you, deny your allegations, and argue with you. In heated situations, don’t respond with the same anger and frustration akin to the way your child shows you. Try to be calm and patient and not use an accusatory tone. 

Trying to force conversations or approaching your child when you are enraged can push them further away from you. Your gentle response, kind voice, and relaxed demeanor can show your child that they can trust you. But at the same time, if your child wants space and doesn’t want to talk about their substance abuse problem, give them a break. Let them come to you and speak about the situation on their terms. 

  1. Help Your Teen Build A Structured Routine

Your teen may struggle to find a structure in their routine as they cope with a dependency problem. This can make them disoriented and overwhelmed. This is where you step in. Help your child create balance in their life. You may need to encourage healthy eating, fun hobbies, and taking it slow when they feel overwhelmed. 

Likewise, you can hire a tutor to support your teenager so they don’t get left behind in school. Let your teen speak their mind and allow them to tell you when they are not feeling well or need you to listen to them. Make them feel safe and comfortable in their own house. It will also help if you check in with your child and keep reassuring them that you care. 

A schedule can help your child stay busy, prevent their mind from straying, and prevent emotional stress from seeping in. You can also encourage them to let go of their pent-up energy by asking them to take up activities like kickboxing, running, and painting. Exercising is a great way to clear the mind and prevents overthinking.

  1. Distance Your Child From All Bad Influences

You must save your child from all the bad influences around them. These include distancing them from peers who continue enabling their bad habits, limiting cellphone usage, and putting parental restrictions on the internet. Removing all external influences, especially those that pressure your child to fall back into old habits, can help them heal. Part of recovery is preventing all possible avenues of relapse. 

You cannot create a wholesome environment for them if your child is still exposed to negative triggers. You may also need to keep tabs on their activity and ensure they are not in danger. It will also help if you inform your child’s guidance counselor and teachers to watch over them during classes and give them a safe space to destress during school hours. 

Make sure you are always a call away if your teen needs you to come and pick them up from school.

  1. Take Care of Yourself

Caring for your child can also take a toll on you. Watching your child in such a vulnerable state can mentally and emotionally weigh down you, causing you to become upset and distressed. It is also physically stressful to keep up with your child’s demands at the expense of your comfort. As a result, you may feel angry, resentful, and frustrated with your teenager, which can put you in a risky situation. You may end up projecting on your child if you cannot manage your own emotions. This can backtrack progress and make them feel worse about themselves. 

So anytime you think you are not up to the task, take a break. You and your partner must be on the same page while parenting your child. Take turns being the authority figure, ensuring your child is always being cared for. If you are experiencing immense stress, try family therapy for your mental well-being. 

Additionally, ensure that you’re eating, sleeping, and caring for your needs instead of focusing on your child alone. You will be a better asset to your teenager when you are in good shape.

Final Thoughts

Learning that your teenager has a dependency problem can be devastating. You may feel like you have failed as a parent and could not keep your child safe, but that is not the case. These situations arise for various reasons that are out of your control. But, if you learn your child is struggling with substance abuse, you must step in. 

This can be tricky, but you must find the delicate balance between comforting your child and putting your foot down. 

When you see signs of substance abuse, consider proper treatment instead of dealing with it alone. Anger and harsh words will not resolve the situation, so try being compassionate and as gentle as possible. You may need to build a structure for your teenager to encourage them to find stability in their rocky routine. 

Enforce boundaries and keep your teenager from falling back into older. Finally, ensure you look after yourself, too.


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