1 in 8 teenagers report using an illicit substance in the last year and over 2 million 12- to17-year-olds report using drugs in the last month according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. And by their senior year of high school, nearly 50% of all teens have tried illicit drugs.  

Could this be your child? Are you concerned that they may have tried or may be using drugs consistently? 

If you think your child may need help with alcohol or drug abuse, consider what it means to parent a drug-exposed child and what tips will support you and them through the process. If you find that treatment is necessary, consider Thrive Treatment’s teen program to get them the comprehensive support they need to live a healthy and successful life.

What Is a Drug-Exposed Child?

A drug-exposed child is a child who has experimented or, perhaps, become addicted to substances that are illegal or that they are unable to legally obtain at their age. 

Substances include prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, or any illicit street drugs that alter and modify the way the mind and body function.

If you are unsure, but suspect your child may be drug-exposed, look for the following irregularities with your child. This list is provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. (They work to raise awareness and provide support for individuals and families related to drug and alcohol abuse.)

  • Hanging out with different friends
  • Not caring about their appearance
  • Getting worse grades in school
  • Missing classes or skipping school
  • Losing interest in their favorite activities
  • Getting in trouble in school or with the law
  • Having different eating or sleeping habits
  • Having more problems with family members and friends”

Tips on Parenting a Drug-Exposed Child

When it comes to parenting a drug-exposed child, there are several things to keep in mind that can help your child in the long run. Educating yourself, being aware of the changes addiction can cause, and strengthening and/or rebuilding your relationship with your child are the top suggestions for successfully parenting a drug-exposed child.

The first thing you can do is learn and educate yourself about addiction, the substance they are abusing, and treatment options. By learning what they are going through and researching the best treatment options, you can support your child. You will know the signs and symptoms to look for and what treatment is available to them. When searching and researching treatment options, you can offer your child opportunities to put their health first.

The second thing you can do is be aware of the fact that addicts lie and not enable your child. Addiction changes people and things you didn’t think them previously capable of might be true. Addiction increases the chances of legal trouble, lying, and other risky behaviors. By not enabling your child and giving them limits, you can set personal boundaries to protect yourself and them. 

Finally, work with your child to rebuild and strengthen your relationship. By strengthening and rebuilding the bonds in your relationship, you can be more open with one another, and it shows your child that you support them and want them to be alright. You can do this by being more present and involved in their life, responding without judgement, setting boundaries, and listening to their concerns without being critical. 

By working on these three things, you can start to parent your drug-exposed child with compassion and help them realize that there is life without substances. 

How to Get Your Child Help With Addiction

If you find out that you are parenting a drug-exposed child, the first important step is getting professional medical care. This is important because addiction is chronic and relapsing.  By getting professional help, your child knows that addiction is medically serious and that while you may be frustrated and angry with their decisions, that you love them and are devoted to their success. 

Thrive Treatment’s Teen Program – Thrive Teen – was founded to cater to the specific needs of teenagers who focus on social groups like family, friends, and school. Our program focuses on providing treatment options that improve mental health, self-image, and long-term options for sobriety and success.

Contact Thrive Treatment today to see if our Thrive Teen program would work for your child.

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