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5 Easy Questions To Ask My Teen If I Suspect Substance Abuse

If you’ve started to suspect your teen may have a substance abuse problem, it can be tricky to navigate how to confront the situation. What questions should you ask? How should you even broach the subject?

You may be surprised to learn that it doesn’t have to be clinical and it definitely shouldn’t be accusatory. Open-ended questions that encourage dialogue are helpful and will also communicate that you see them. You’re aware of their habits and of the changes they’ve been going through. 

Here are five questions that can soften the field for conversation and get to the root of the issue–is your teen using drugs? Or is there something else going on with them?

 

1.  What’s going on with your hair?

Okay, maybe not always in these exact words–but the goal is the same regardless of phrasing: to point out a change in appearance. Are they showering regularly? Are they no longer interested in their beauty routine (makeup, doing their hair, etc.) and uncharacteristically disinterested in how they look? Have they been wearing that same t-shirt for three days straight?

Whatever the case may be, look for the appearance change and ask a relational question regarding that change. 

 

2. What’s going on with your attitude lately?

You have a relationship with your kiddo and it’s okay to ask this question. A change in attitude could be anything from irritability coming home from school to poor treatment of family members at home like their siblings. Isolate specific instances like this and ask where this attitude change is coming from: Why did you get into a fight with your dad? Why are you arguing so much when it’s time to do chores recently? 

Look for behavioral changes and changes in their cognitive process. If they hit you with the “I don’t know,” ask more questions because there’s a big one we’re trying to get to the bottom of here–are they using?

 

3. What happened to your old friends?

Growing out of old relationships and forming new friendships isn’t uncommon in adolescents, but it could also be a sign of larger issues. Ask questions about the kids you’re used to hearing about or seeing that aren’t around anymore. It shows an interest in the relationships your child is keeping (which is always good) and is also a great tool to see if others are noticing changes in your teen. 

Have they stopped seeing their old friends because of these new habits? Ask about their relationships. So often we see kids trade their “good friends” for “bad friends” because those are the kids who are also using, right? 

 

4. Why are you missing baseball practice?

Of course, baseball practice can be substituted for any important activity in your child’s life–band practice, work, drama club–the problem is that this activity is no longer a priority for them. It’s important not to be accusatory when asking this question in particular, we just want to see the root cause. Is it general disinterest? Or something deeper?

Look for the things they’re giving up and no longer participating in and ask pointedly, “Why haven’t you been doing your homework? Why didn’t you go to that job interview?”  If your question is met with a shoulder shrug or non-answer, just keep asking. Your child’s shame is also playing a role in what’s at stake here. There will be a lot of layers to dig through, so don’t back down. 

 

5. Where is your money going?

If your teen’s money is disappearing or you find them asking for more money than usual, it’s important to ask where it’s all going. If money is going down the drain but they aren’t wearing new clothes, going out to the movies with their friends, or fixing up their car, it has to be going somewhere. 

An influx in spending is one of the most telling signs for a possible substance abuse problem and definitely cannot be ignored. Moms and dads, don’t be afraid to ask your kiddo where it’s all going. 

 

Now it’s your turn to get strategic. Plan out how you want to broach these tough questions and be ready to have some difficult conversations. There may be layers covering up the root of their issue, but you can dig down to it. And if you need help with what questions to ask, we’re here to help.

Reach out to us. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit us at clearforkacademy.com. Our team of specialists is standing by to help your family in any way we can.

 

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Substance Abuse Resources for Parents

As parents, we want to have all of the answers for our kids, right? This can be incredibly challenging for parents of teens struggling with substance abuse. As your family tackles this complex topic, how can you educate yourselves and develop strategies that work for you? Clearfork Academy is here with three essential resources for parents that will fill your cup with knowledge, your toolbox with solutions, and hopefully your hearts with comfort. Let’s take a look.

 

1.  The Big Book

The Big Book is the all-encompassing guide to the twelve-step program of AA and the building block of many substance abuse programs we see today. This text lays out the cornerstone concepts of recovery, shares stories from men and women that have overcome addiction, and will give every parent a solid base to build from on their own. 

There’s no right or wrong way to read the Big Book, but we do recommend taking notes, using tabs to highlight sections you find meaningful, and reading through it more than once. Each new dive will lead you to new discoveries. Compulsivity and your child’s experiences can be examined. This book will help you really understand the ways you can help as a parent. 

Both AA and the sister program, Al-Anon, have more recommendations and great resources on their websites as well. 

 

2. Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Radical Candor by Kim Scott is a fantastic resource for leadership strategies and communication. Scott bases her book on a quadrant system that breaks down boundaries/expectations, communication, incentives, etc. This is a necessary resource because it arms parents with the tools they need to really impact their teen’s development during all of these crazy changes. 

We’ve seen parents throw money at problems, avoid discipline for bad behaviors, and overall just lack a clear outline of expectations. This book will help you identify your non-negotiables as a family, strategies for implementing real change, and coping strategies for when communication breaks down.

 

3. Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave by Ed Welch

Lastly, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave by Ed Welch is an invaluable resource that molds the worlds of spirituality and science together to talk about recovery. Not only does it break down the science behind addiction, like maladaptive patterns of behavior, but it also centers itself on strong religious beliefs to help families find hope in the power of the gospel. 

Welch discusses questions regarding shame, the status of addiction as sin/disease, and more in a way that is really accessible to all readers. This is one of the best compliments of these resources that we have seen. 

 

So, now that you’re armed with some great resources to expand your knowledge of substance abuse, it’s time to get to work. Read and research whatever you can get your hands on–there is no such thing as too much information. 

For additional resources, please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com or visit us at clearforkacademy.com to see our glossary of substance abuse and recovery terms. Our team of specialists is standing by to help your family with your unique situation or just to talk and help you answer some questions. 

 

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What is a Family Contract? How Do I Make One?

A family contract can be one of the most critical steps in getting your family back on track after treatment, especially for your kiddo who is trying to re-adjust at home. But family contracts aren’t just for families discharging from a treatment facility–a family can benefit from one at any stage of the recovery process.

 

What is a Family Contract?

In short, a family contract is an agreed-upon set of boundaries, rules, and expectations for your household and family dynamic. How do you want to treat each other? What are your expectations for your child as you move forward together? The family contract is a great way to put everything on the table immediately. It takes the guesswork out of maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship during the recovery process at home. It does not have to be a lengthy document–contracts are typically one to four pages in length, depending on the family. Write down whatever feels best for you!

 

Why do we need a Family Contract?

Setting these boundaries will add a sense of accountability and responsibility for your teen and give them tangible goals to aspire towards as they continue their recovery. Create a list that incorporates your family values, and don’t forget to establish consequences or accountability measures should expectations fail to be met. Drafting a family contract will help your family avoid the common pitfall of going straight to accountability measures without first laying out the boundaries you expect. 

 

How do I make a Family Contract?

It is important when drafting a contract that you have an open panel discussion. Your child should have buy-in to the contract, as well as a trusted counselor/therapist (if applicable). Allowing input from these sources will help facilitate real changes and adherence to not only what you want but what your teen wants for themselves. Opening the floor to discuss the contract rules will encourage conversation and allow self-expression from your kiddo on their feelings. Everyone has different aspects that they deem to be the most important–talk about the boundaries you value most and allow your kiddo to do the same. 

Practice active listening regarding the items your child suggests; they may even have boundaries and goals for you as a parent! Avoid shutting down their suggestions and allow them to share their perspective. Remember: you aren’t just their parent, you are also their biggest advocate and supporter. 

A successful family contract that follows these guidelines will bring your family together and establish open lines of communication right from the start. The goal is never to make your child dread signing the bottom. Everyone should sign with a clear conscience and a light heart as it represents the collective.

 

If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at www.ClearforkAcademy.com.

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How to Have a Healthy Relationship With Your Teen Who’s Struggling With Substance Abuse

If your teen is struggling with substance abuse, it’s going to call for a shift in your relationship. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it could be the best thing for both of you at this juncture. 

Figuring out how to have a healthy, meaningful relationship with your teen can be hard in the best of circumstances; families struggling with substance abuse can often find this basic need to be even more challenging. Where do you start when communication breaks down, and new worries are introduced into your family dynamic? 

There are two key things to remember as you embark on this journey of recovery with your teen: 

 

1 . This is not your fault.

Taking the blame is one of the most common reactions for parents, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s right. Too often, when we think things are our fault, the logical next step is to try and fix it. But this isn’t a problem you can fix alone, nor is it your fault. When we try to fix things that aren’t our problem, we risk making things worse. Let go of any feelings of blame you may be holding on to. Remember the serenity prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

 

2.  It’s ok to be the cheerleader.

Be a cheerleader, a strong embrace, and the shoulder to cry on when they need it. The authority comes naturally as a parent; you set the boundaries and expectations, which are not things to forfeit. But your teen isn’t just in need of the parent role. They also need an advocate. Be their cheerleader during these tough times and advocate for their success. Encourage their heart and their mind. 

Step out of the role of control because you can’t control this situation. And don’t be afraid to advocate for the inner fortitude of your child. Cheerlead when you can instead of being an authoritarian. 

 

Having a healthy relationship with your teen struggling with substance abuse isn’t easy, but you’re not alone. There is support for your teen, for your family, and for you! 

 

Want to learn more? Watch our most recent YouTube video: https://youtu.be/lBKeM418n24

 

If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at www.ClearforkAcademy.com

 

Are you wondering if your teen may have a substance abuse problem? Download our free “Teen Substance Abuse 101” guide. This comprehensive guide will walk you through discovering if your child has a substance abuse problem, and what to do next! Download your free guide here: Download Now

 

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The Mental Health Effects of Covid-19 on Teens

No one could have prepared for the sudden COVID crisis of 2020, and that includes our kids. It’s been undeniably hard on everyone, and when one of our greatest coping mechanisms is the positive reinforcement we get from our friends, what is your teen supposed to do when they’re cooped up at home?

How is the pandemic affecting them?
What are some signs that parents need to be on the lookout for?


Depression is More Prevalent

Sadly, depression has seen a big rise since the start of the pandemic. Teens are even more susceptible to its effects because of their natural hormone imbalances and brain development. They don’t yet have all of the coping skills that adults have crafted over a lifetime.

It can be more than just the blues; severe depression is something to be concerned about. Changes in your child’s behavior or mood could be indicators that they are struggling emotionally and are in need of help.


Signs of Depression

Teens can be moody, even in the best of circumstances, so keep your child’s unique personality and patterns in mind as you go through the possible signs of depression:
        • Irritability
        • Mood swings
        • Withdrawal and isolation
        • Excessive sleeping or napping
        • Loss of appetite
These are symptoms that will typically last for an extended period of time. You should monitor how long you notice certain behaviors. Has it been one or two days? A week or longer? The more severe signs of depression require urgent attention:
If you’ve seen these behaviors in your teen, please seek professional help right away.

 

What You Can Do to Help

If you see any of these behaviors that give cause for concern, don’t be afraid to ask your child about it. Having open lines of communication can be an extreme comfort for you and for them. Urging them to speak to a trusted friend or adult can also foster healthy ways for them to express their emotions in a safe space.

Remember to also lead by example. Talking about your own feelings can prompt input from your teen. Keep a positive outlook even when dealing with your own stress. Take care of yourself, each other, and encourage time spent together as a family.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Calling your pediatrician, counselor, or a treatment facility like Clearfork to get an assessment of your child’s mental state can make a big difference. It’s never too soon to ask questions, but there could come a time where it is too late. 

Take your child’s mental health seriously, and above all, just be there for them. Let them know that you care. 


If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at
www.ClearforkAcademy.com!

 

Are you wondering if your teen may have a substance abuse problem? Download our free “Teen Substance Abuse 101” guide. This comprehensive guide will walk you through discovering if your child has a substance abuse problem, and what to do next! Download your free guide here: Download Now
Want to learn more? Click here to check out our YouTube Channel!