Dealing With a Teen Who Struggles With Drug Addiction

Where can we turn for help with the challenge of confronting our adolescent son's problem with substance abuse? It might even be fair to say his abuse has escalated into a full-blown addiction. We're devastated and don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

Perhaps it will encourage you to know that you’re not alone. Even in families that are closely knit and hold strong values there are no guarantees that substance abuse won’t affect one or more of the children.

In dealing with this difficult situation it’s important to keep the following principles in mind. First, don’t deny or ignore the problem – if you do, it’s likely to get worse. Second, don’t allow yourself to become burdened by false guilt – most parents assume a great deal of self-blame when an addiction surfaces in their home. Third, don’t look for or expect quick-fix solutions. Remember that there will be no complete healing until your child or adolescent learns to accept and take responsibility for his or her own actions. This could be a long process requiring a great deal of faith and patience on your part.

The good news is that effective help is available. We suggest that you seek professional counseling for your teenager, and we strongly recommend that you do this together as a family. The most successful treatment programs take a family systems approach that involves intensive evaluation and a series of counseling sessions offered in an environment of community and accountability. Our staff would be happy to provide you with referrals to helpful programs of this kind or a list of qualified therapists in your area who specialize in treating drug addiction. Call our Counseling department for a free phone consultation.

If the situation continues to intensify and escalate, you may need to present your teen with a number of options. These might include entering an inpatient drug-treatment center, a halfway house, a boot-camp program or youth home, or staying with a relative or another family who is willing to accept him for a defined period of time. More extreme possibilities may need to be discussed as well, such as making your child a ward of the court or even turning him over to the police if he has been involved in criminal activity. If you continue to shield him from the consequences of his behavior or bail him out when his drug abuse gets him into trouble, he will not be motivated to change and you will be left with deep-seated anger and frustration.

Below are a number of other resources and referrals that should prove useful in your efforts to help your teenager find healing and release from the bondage of drug addiction.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

The Last Addiction: Why Self-Help Is Not Enough

Putting Your Past Behind You: Finding Hope for Life’s Deepest Hurts

When Someone You Love Abuses Drugs or Alcohol

Substance Abuse and Addiction (resource list)

Adult and Teen Challenge

Lighthouse Network

Celebrate Recovery

The Salvation Army

Walter Hoving Home

His Mansion Ministries

Elevation Family Ministries

Battling Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Teen Addiction

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