How to Deal with a Teen Struggling with Addiction

If you think your teen is addicted to drugs, the first thing you need to do is sit down and take a deep breath. Dealing with drug addiction is never easy and the last thing you want to do is alienate your child. Before you talk to your teen about the situation, you need to lay the foundation for success. Here are a few tips that will help you deal with a child struggling with addiction.

Get Your Spouse Involved

Things will go better over the long run if your partner is by your side, providing a united front to confront and support your child. If you believe your teen is drug addicted, discuss it with your partner so that they are informed. Agree on what position you’ll both take. If you don’t agree on everything, commit to presenting a unified front to the child on matters like treatment and new family rules.

You also have to be prepared for name-calling and denial by your child, depending on the severity of the situation and the nature of your relationship. Be prepared to be called a hypocrite if you have a history of drug use yourself, but don’t let that undermine your efforts. By talking about matters in advance, you’ll be able to honestly discuss your own struggle with addiction to your child without the other parent using it as an excuse for the child’s addiction.

Gather Evidence

Don’t have reservations about searching your child’s room. Your concerns about your teen’s well-being – their health and their very life – matter more than the luxury of privacy. Evidence like drugs and drug paraphernalia should be reviewed by both parents so you understand what you’re dealing with. It can give you an idea as to what your child is using and any other issues they’re dealing with. Having this evidence in front of you when talking to your child will shut down denial and forces them to face the truth.

Set Realistic Goals

Don’t expect your child to just quit drugs. Research what helps ease withdrawal symptoms. Issue rules that should help to stop the continued use of drugs. Have consequences for violating these rules. Let your teen have feedback regarding the rules and consequences but be prepared to lay down the law on rules that protect your child. Don’t set rules you can’t enforce. And don’t set rules your partner won’t enforce. Have a plan to set boundaries and enforce them early on while you deal with the addiction.

Discuss the Reasons Why Kids Are Involved in Drugs

Some kids start taking drugs to fit in. They may be hanging with these kids to feel good, and the drugs seem to add to that. Other kids are self-medicating using the drugs; in these cases, your family may need to talk to a counselor about their depression, anxiety or other mental disorders in addition to dealing with the addiction. Your teen may be doing drugs to relieve boredom or fix themselves. This can lead to addiction, so be willing to seek professional help as required.


Addiction can seriously affect your child’s development and hurt your family. Don’t assume it is a phase, “a normal thing these days”, or that it will just go away on its own. You need to deal with the child’s addiction sooner rather than later in a realistic, holistic manner.