Substance Abuse

As a parent, watching your child become dependent on drugs or alcohol can be heart-wrenching and terrifying.

Unfortunately, many of today's teens see chemical use as a rite of passage. In their eyes they are entitled to a few beers, some mixed drinks or even drugs as they make their way through high school.

There are a lot reasons why teens succumb to the pressure to indulge in chemical use. They might want to be cool and fit in with their friends, act grown-up, escape emotional pain or simply be rebellious.

Addiction and true chemical dependency is most commonly a problem for people who struggle with shame and self-hatred. They find that they can temporarily escape the unbearable weight of shame though the use of drugs and alcohol.



If you just found out your teen tried drugs or alcohol for the first time, talk to them about it. Try to remain calm and curious with them, rather than angry and explosive. Ask them questions about the circumstances in which they choose to try it and if they think they’re going try it again in the future. Express your concern and offer them help in choosing wisely next time.

If your teen is using drugs and alcohol heavily, try to assess their openness to receiving help. It’s extremely rare that someone struggling with addiction will benefit from treatment if they’re not interested in getting better. 

If they’re not interested in substance abuse-specific therapy, perhaps they could benefit from meeting with a therapist to work through any underlying issues that might be causing them to turn to their addiction as a coping mechanism. Family therapy might also be an even less threatening alternative and has the added benefit of helping you learn how to communicate unconditional love for your teen while setting healthy boundaries for your relationship with them.



At TreeHouse teens learn that they are lovable, capable and worthwhile, loved without strings and not alone. Over time, as these truths become real to them, their shame and self-hatred begins to dissipate. With the shame gone, they become free to make wiser decisions about chemical use.

In addition, their TreeHouse mentor will help them learn healthier ways to cope and offer support and guidance on their journey.

I used to do drugs, drink and smoke, but now I haven't even thought about it.