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What To Do When You Find Your Teenager With Drugs

What To Do When You Find Your Teenager With Drugs

Drug use among teens is not uncommon. 48% of high school students report having used illicit drugs by the end of their senior year, while 14% say they have used opioid prescription drugs.

However, drug abuse is dangerous for everyone – and especially for teens. Teen drug use increases the risk of sexual violence, mental health problems, and suicide risk. It also makes it more likely that an individual will struggle with drug addiction as an adult: the majority of adults who meet the criteria for a substance use disorder started using substances as a teen or young adult.

If you find your teenager with drugs, you may feel angry, scared, or confused. However, there are some steps you can take to respond appropriately to the situation and support your child to leave drugs behind.

Why Do Teens Abuse Substances?

Why Do Teens Abuse Substances?

There are many different reasons why a teen might use drugs. Often, they are offered substances by peers at their school, college, or through other social networks.

Some risk factors make high-risk substance abuse more likely. However, teens may also use drugs without experiencing any of these factors.

Some risk factors for high-risk substance use include:

  • Family history of drug and alcohol use
  • Family rejection of gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Spending time with peers who use substances
  • Social isolation
  • Low academic performance
  • Childhood abuse
  • Mental health issues

Why Are Teens So Vulnerable to Drug or Alcohol Use?

A teenager’s brain is still growing and developing in many different ways. Substance abuse can affect this development and produce long-lasting effects on various brain functions and structures.

Current research suggests that substance abuse in adolescents may lead to poorer neurocognitive performance, changes in white matter quality, changes in brain volume, and changes in activation to cognitive tasks. Teens who smoke marijuana are far more likely to develop psychiatric issues if they are already predisposed to the conditions. Moreover, teen drug abuse makes drug addiction as an adult more likely.

What to Do When You Discover Your Child Is Using Drugs?

What to Do When You Discover Your Child Is Using Drugs?

If you discover your teenager is using drugs, it can be tempting to react angrily. However, doing so may be counterproductive and drive your child away, preventing meaningful and productive conversations. Instead, try to follow the following steps:

  1. Take A Deep Breath

Sit down, take a deep breath, and plan the conversation. Your conversation with your teen will be most effective if you are calm and prepared.

  1. Speak With Other Parenting Figures

If you share parenting responsibilities with anyone else, it’s important you get on the same page. Teens often turn to the other parent when one says no.

Try to agree on your position, present a united front, and agree not to undermine each other.

  1. Think About Your Substance Use

If you have ever used drugs, cigarettes, or even alcohol, be prepared for your child to call you out. It’s important to be honest about your drug use, but make sure it can’t be used as an excuse for substance abuse.

For example, if you have used drugs in the past, explain any harmful consequences or why you decided to stop. Make sure they know that drugs affect everyone differently, and even if you were okay, it doesn’t mean they will be. If you still smoke, explain that you know that it is unhealthy.

  1. Collect Evidence

You may want to collect some evidence of their drug use, such as hidden drug paraphernalia or drugs themselves. Be prepared for your child to offer excuses, such as holding the substances for someone else.

  1. Remain Calm

Your child may well react angrily or deny their drug use. If this happens, it’s important to remain calm and avoid a confrontation. Try not to respond angrily yourself.

If you need to, you can take a pause from the conversation and return to it later. Make sure you remind your child throughout that you love them, and that the conversation comes from a place of care.

  1. Be Realistic

Don’t set your goals too high, especially for the first conversation. It may take some time to reach your final goal, such as the end of your child’s drug use. In the beginning, even effectively expressing that you don’t want them to use drugs can be an achievement.

  1. Lay Out Clear Rules

Before you being the conversation, you should establish what your rules will be, and what will happen if your child breaks them. Make sure you are prepared to enforce both the rules and their consequences. However, you should also listen to your child’s feedback and be prepared to adapt them where it seems reasonable.

  1. Speak About Addiction in the Family

If other people in the family have lived with addiction, your child will be more at risk of developing a drug or alcohol problem. Make sure they are aware of this, creating even more reasons for them not to use drugs or alcohol.

Seeking Professional Help

You may have caught your child at the early stages of drug use, and quitting may be relatively easy. However, if you think your teen may be living with a substance use disorder, they will most likely need professional help to recover. Moreover, if they have become dependent on the substance, it may be dangerous for them to stop without medical support.

Some signs of a substance use disorder include:

  • using drugs even when there are negative consequences
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit
  • drug use interfering with school and family responsibilities
  • loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • social isolation

You may want to speak with your child about addiction treatment centers and what options are available. Many treatment centers offer programs specially developed for teens. Researching options yourself can help make the process easier for your child – you could talk with a family doctor or contact rehab centers directly.

If your teenager seems unwilling to attend treatment, you may want to stage an intervention to encourage them to go. A mental health professional should be able to guide you through the intervention process.

Preventing Teen Substance Abuse

Preventing Teen Substance Abuse

Teen substance abuse is a serious concern. However, there are steps that you can take – as a parent as a community – to prevent risky behaviors like substance abuse and promote drug-free kids. These protective factors include:

  • Family engagement
  • Family support
  • Parents disapproving of drug or alcohol abuse
  • School connectedness

Specialized Recovery Support for Teens with Clearfork Academy

At Clearfork Academy, we offer top-tier residential addiction treatment, specifically designed for teens. We believe in the power of each individual to overcome addiction and pursue a fulfilling, vibrant life.

We believe that addiction recovery requires a change in heart as well as evidence-based treatments. Combining the two, we walk with teenagers as they discover the path to a better future.

If your child is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, contact us today to begin the healing process.

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5 Ways to Regain Your Parents Trust

5 Ways to Regain Your Parents Trust

The weight of addiction can cause you to break promises, neglect loved ones, and isolate yourself. A crucial element to sustaining lasting recovery requires repairing relationships damaged by active substance use.

How SUD Breaks Trust

Addiction does not only affect you; it affects your family, too. For most teens, substance use is generally not allowed by parents. Parents may create rules to prevent substances from entering the household or prevent their children from being around peers who use substances. Despite having parents who have strict rules surrounding substances, you may use substances and hide your habits from your parents. You might hide your substance use and sneak off to places where you can use substances as a way to avoid your parents finding out. Or, you might sneak substances into the house as a way of rebelling against the boundaries and rules set by your parents.

Ultimately, when you repeatedly betray the trust between you and your parents, it will take a lot of effort to restore the relationship. Here are five practices you can utilize to help you regain your parents’ trust:

1. Be Open and Communicate

Lack of communication between you and your parents is sure to deteriorate trust within the relationship. However, when you work with a therapist, you will learn to develop healthy communication skills. Once you and your parents acknowledge that you would like to repair your relationship, ask them what you can do to regain their trust? Doing this shows that you care about repairing the relationship and are willing to listen to them.

Open communication means speaking up when you feel like expectations are too much to achieve. Even after recovery, you are still learning to navigate a sober lifestyle without professional guidance. You may make mistakes, and it will also take time for you to adjust. When you feel like your parents are too demanding, voice your concerns and let them know that it might be much for you to live up to at the moment.

2. Show Through Your Actions

The saying “actions speak louder than words” is true. Certainly, you can promise not to miss curfew or pick up a bottle of alcohol again, but until you see through that promise, it is unlikely that you will have the trust of your parents. The best way to prove that you have changed and are working towards getting their trust again is through changed action.

3. Be Patient

Forming relationships takes time; therefore, it will take time to repair them. Your parents support you and should support the recovery process. You and your parents should understand that recovery is about starting over and forming new bonds. It is crucial during this process to remember that repairing relationships is part of the process and will take time. You have to be patient. Not only do you have to be patient with them, but you also have to be patient with yourself. Your parents must also be patient.

Long-term sobriety is a difficult but worthwhile process that will require you to be cautious of how you treat yourself, how you treat others and how others treat you. Patience is the crux to achieving this kind of trust in your relationship.

4. Have Accountability

Substance use can cause you to blame your actions on others instead of taking accountability for your actions. For example, you might blame your substance use on the friends you hang around with because they use it.

Taking Accountability for your actions and mistakes is a key component to showing the change in your behaviors and self-awareness. Accountability also allows you to think before your act. Taking responsibility and thinking before you act will help you look inward and better understand yourself and your situation. Over time you will develop the resilience to overcome impulses and triggers and endure challenging situations.

5. Stay Consistent

Mistakes are bound to happen in life, and they will definitely occur during the journey to recovery. You may even have a few slip-ups here and there; however, focus on staying as consistent as possible. If your parents set a curfew that you one day find you may be late for, go ahead and let them know rather than avoid not telling them. Behavior like this allows your parents to know that you still are respectful about their role. If you know that you may slip up, address these thoughts through open communication. Remember to be consistent, and you will improve your relationships.

Substance use can diminish the trust between teens and parents. With hard work and commitment, restoring trust is possible. Restoring trust between teens and their parents requires help from mental health professionals and substance counselors who specialize in treating mental health and substance use disorders. Clearfork Academy understands the importance of the parent-child relationship when it comes to recovery. We offer various group, family, and individual treatment options to help teens develop the skills necessary to restore relationships with friends, family, and themselves. We also provide a comfortable space for teens to connect with healthy activities that speak to their needs. Your teen has a bright future waiting for them, so don’t wait any longer to get help, take action today. Our staff is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more about our treatment options and how to get started on the recovery process call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604

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How Can You Help Teens Struggling With a Parent’s Divorce?

Parents help their teens through a divorce

Divorce is hard, especially for children. Teens often face many negative consequences following their parent’s divorce, including loss of identity, emotional turmoil, and difficulties in future relationships. Yet, parental guidance and support can make all the difference during this period.

Here are some ways parents can help their teens feel better after a divorce.

Teens and Addiction Risks

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) define trauma as “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that an individual experiences as physically, emotionally harmful or life-threatening. Trauma has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.” Most youths experience their parents’ divorce as a trauma. Notably, teens who experience trauma are more susceptible to turning to substances.

Subsequently, we suggest that parents pay attention to any signs of their teen struggling to handle the divorce and other related changes in their lives. Some divorce-related changes include:

  • Moving and selling of their childhood home
  • Changing schools
  • Having to make new friends because of moving
  • Division of time between parents
  • Schedule changes that negatively impact their time with friends or extracurricular activities

Such significant changes resulting from childhood trauma can impact their mental, emotional, and physical health. Though SUD is a complex condition, data shows a strong link between trauma and developing addictions.

How Does Divorce Affect Teens?

The effect of divorce on teens is complex and varies from person to person. However, it impacts youth emotionally, relationally, and mentally including:

  • Fearing the Future: Following their parent’s divorce, teenagers might feel like nothing will ever work out for them or their family again.
  • Disappointment: Teens might feel disappointed with themselves or their parents because of poor communication and past interactions with their parents.
  • Lack of Self-worth: They might also have difficulty believing that they’re worthy of love and happiness, especially if they blame themselves for the parent’s divorce.
  • Lack of Identity: Teens need a strong sense of self to develop confidence and self-esteem. When they lose that identity, it can create confusion and doubt.
  • Emotional Turmoil: Divorce can be an overwhelming experience for teens, especially when figuring out their own emotions and how to deal with challenges. Your teen might find themselves going through cycles of sadness, anger, and even depression as they try to cope with the changes happening in their life.
  • Difficulty Forming Relationships: Divorce can make it difficult for them to develop healthy relationships in the future. They might not feel ready to put themselves out there because they still feel vulnerable.

Despite these consequences, there are ways for parents to improve the odds and conditions for their children.

Help Your Teen Feel Better

Though challenging for all involved, you can find powerful options to make the best out of this situation for your children. Some options include:

  • Being Emotionally Supportive: You can’t fix your teen’s feelings after a divorce, but you can help them accept the situation. Take time to listen, empathize, and talk through their feelings. We also suggest spending more time with your teen, guiding them to make healthy choices in food and lifestyle, and offering emotional support.
  • Improving Their Social Life: Most teens consider extracurricular activities meaningful and a place of belonging. Such activities serve as outlets to release stress and emotions. We suggest parents look for activities that might help their teens feel better about themselves, such as volunteering or joining extracurricular activities like sports, art lessons, or church youth groups.
  • Seek Counseling: If your teen is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, they may need professional counseling or psychiatric help from a mental health professional. Treatment centers, such as Clearfork Academy, specialize in helping teens with post-divorce trauma.
  • School Support: You can also work with your teen’s school counselor, teachers, or social worker to ensure they’re getting the care they need.
  • Create Familiarity: Make sure your teen has comfortable and familiar places in your home that lend support and security. It’s essential for them to feel like they have a “home” where they can relax after a tough day.
  • Seek Input: When possible, involve your teen’s decisions regarding specific life changes. Consider holding discussions with them before and after you make your final decisions. Doing this will let them know what’s going on in their life.
  • Therapy: Consider individual or family therapy for your teen. Family therapy helps teens struggling with any number of personal or familial issues, including anxiety, depression, anger management, and learning coping skills. Evidence-based treatments like CBT also provide comprehensive support for your teen.

Divorce is one of the most challenging decisions a person can make. The emotional and psychological impacts can be devastating to a teen’s emotional well-being. However, there are ways for teens to cope with divorce. To start, consider family therapy, acknowledge their feelings, and create a safe space for them. At Clearfork Academy, we utilize comprehensive treatments to help parents and teenagers resolve teen trauma or divorce-related behavioral issues. We also provide the space where teens can discuss their feelings and receive support from professionals, family, friends, and peers. Our goal is to address and treat any underlying mental health and substance use disorders, including co-occurring disorders. If your child is currently in need of professional support, don’t wait; get help today. Our admissions staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To find out more about our programs, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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Setting Boundaries With a Parent With a SUD: A Few Tips on How to Cope

father having a conversation with his teenage son

When dealing with a parent who has a substance use disorder (SUD), protecting your overall well-being is essential as a teenager. You may feel that your situation is unfair, which could bring about negative feelings and emotions. However, you can establish respect and create boundaries for yourself in the relationship. 

Setting boundaries can be challenging if you have never done it before, especially when dealing with a parent struggling with a SUD. Understand that it is possible. If you are currently living with a parent with a SUD, here’s what you should know about setting boundaries.

Set Clear and Specific Boundaries 

Boundaries are rules or limits a person creates that help them maintain and enforce a safe way for others to behave towards them. It lets others know how much you are willing to accept or give to them. Setting boundaries with someone who has an addiction is necessary to help prevent a codependent relationship.

It may feel hard to set boundaries with your parents as a teenager because they are the authority figure. However, remind yourself that you also deserve respect for your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. When you set these rules and boundaries in place, be as specific and clear-cut as possible. Don’t leave any wiggle room for others to find a loophole or form any misunderstandings. A specific boundary could be that you don’t allow your parent to bring any form of alcoholor drugs around you.

Be Firm 

When setting boundaries, there must be consequences for crossing the line. When your parent oversteps your boundaries, it should be clear that you won’t tolerate the behavior. Consistency is necessary for establishing a new set of rules. 

Individuals with SUDs might try to gaslight or manipulate you into believing that there is no real issue or that they haven’t done anything wrong. However, standing firm on your boundaries will show them that you know how to stand up for yourself. 

Have A Professional Support System

If you are a teen who has a parent with a SUD, you may find yourself parenting your parent. Having to act like an adult in situations where your parent can’t step up and make decisions is challenging for any teenager to go through. You may be met with intimidation or manipulation when trying to approach other adults about your problems. Your parents may feel like you are trying to expose or embarrass them by going to other people for help. 

You must find a professional support system. Having a therapist, teacher, school counselor, or outside adult to lean on and help you through challenging situations allows you to create a much-needed support group. Therefore, find an adult that you trust and respect. Let them know your situation, and ask if they can be a point of contact when you need it. A support system will reassure you that you are never alone and always have someone to turn to for help. 

How Do You Cope With Having a Parent With a SUD?

If you are under the age of 18, know that you are not completely powerless and there is help out there for you. If you cannot leave your environment, learning coping strategies will help calm you when you are stressed. 

A few ways you can manage the stress of living with a parent going through addiction are:

  • Find a local support group that you can join.
  • Get involved with school activities, clubs, or sports that can help you release and express your emotions.
  • Speak to a school counselor.
  • Reach out and lean on your friends for support.
  • Journal your thoughts and emotions instead of bottling them inside.
  • Listen to music that helps soothe or heal you.
  • Find a creative outlet such as art, dancing, photography, or music to self-express.

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

If you have a parent or family member that uses substances, addiction may run in your family. Therefore, if your parent leaves drugs and alcohol around the house, it can become a risk to you. Understand that just because your environment and genetics place you at a higher risk, it does not mean you can’t break your family cycle of addiction

Educating yourself on addiction and how to seek help puts you in a great position to break the cycle. Developing skills that help you cope with life stressors allows you to avoid the temptation of turning to drugs. Setting clear boundaries with those in your life who abuse drugs also puts you at a distance from enabling them to influence you.  

The process of setting boundaries is a skill that requires consistency and the ability to stick up for yourself. Here at Clearfork Academy, we are motivated to help teenage males find their voice and create boundaries with a parent dealing with a substances use disorder. We offer family therapy that allows all immediate members to work through the recovery process. Remember, addiction affects the whole family. Therefore overcoming addiction requires healing the areas of both you and your parents’ lives affected by substances. Our programs also offer individual one-on-one therapy that will allow you to work through any trauma and negative feelings associated with a parent’s drug use. You will also develop healthier life skills. Our highly trained staff are waiting for you to reach out for help and begin your journey to recovery. For more information about our facility and programs, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling us at (866) 650-5212. 

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Teen Substance Abuse & Overdose Statistics

New statistics come out every year for just about anything you can imagine. Doctors, psychologists, economists, etc., come together and boil life down into a series of numbers. Why? Because measurable data is the most concrete form of information–it is the basis for many of our scientific decisions, problem-solving, and predictions. Without statistics, all of the data gathered piles up in the corner–harder to relate or understand.

Statistics are loud. We see them and understand them intuitively because numbers make sense; numbers follow a pattern. They are the attention-grabber, the highlight reel–but they are rarely the focus. They melt into the background of whatever words surround them. 

But today, here, right now–the statistics are everything. 

In 2019, 4,777 young adults died from an overdose. The most common cause was heroin and other opioids, with prescription medication coming in second–and 50% of teenagers think that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs. And we know addiction is a lifelong struggle, right? 95,000 total people died of an overdose or substance abuse-related death in 2019.

The statistics are still being compiled for 2020 during the opioid epidemic rise in fentanyl overdoses our country has been facing. The numbers are expected to be on the rise. 

This is not the highlight of a larger argument nor the opening hook for a long article. These numbers are real, and they are powerful enough on their own. Talk to your kids. Raise awareness about the overdose rate and about everything our teenagers deal with day to day. Be a resource. Be a light. 

This is not just happening behind closed doors; it’s happening in our front yards, in school bathrooms, in public. 4,777 teen substance abuse-related deaths in 2019 alone… don’t let your child become just another statistic.

If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues, please give us a call at 888-966-8604 or visit us online at We want to help.


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Will School Get in the Way of My Teen’s Recovery?

Has your child recently finished rehab or drug counseling? Are you struggling to find the balance between back-to-school stress and recovery? You’re not alone; this is a hard part of the year for us at Clearfork Academy because we see so many families tackling this problem. If you’re concerned school may get in the way of your child’s recovery, let us walk you through what you can expect and how to help your family adjust to a new normal. 

1. How long after treatment can my teen go back to school?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Should you wait three weeks? One day? The best time frame is not a hard-and-fast rule, because each situation is unique. This is a difficult transition and can potentially be triggering for your child. Pay attention to their habits as they leave treatment–are they making friends with other kids in recovery? Do they take an active role in their recovery process or wait for you to prompt them? 

There is a party culture and peer pressure in schools, so make sure your child has the tools to succeed before sending them back in. Have conversations about your child’s triggers and what coping strategies they can use in a social setting. 


2. What should we talk about before my teen goes back to school?

It’s easy to make a laundry list of topics to discuss before sending your teen back to school, but some of the most important conversations can get lost in the mix that way. Focus your efforts on a few key areas: boundaries, triggers, and people. 

– Boundaries & Triggers

Setting healthy boundaries is a critical step in long-lasting recovery–remember: it’s a life-long commitment. What are the positive boundaries we can set to help avoid negative triggers? If your teen used to stop by a popular smoking spot before or after school, don’t just give them a vague lesson in avoidance. Replace things they should avoid with a positive alternative. Instead of going for a smoke with their friends after school, maybe they can stop for a snack on the way home or get involved in an activity like sports, drama, or community outreach to fill in the gaps. Sit down and make a plan on what their before and after school will look like. It’s also important to note these should involve positive things that your teen enjoys. If they don’t like the plan, it can feel like a consequence and has a higher-potential to fail. 

Have good places, good substitutions, and good habits ready for your child to pull from for any situation that could be triggering. 

– People

Peer pressure is one of the big concerns for parents when sending their teen back to school during recovery; however, not all peer pressure comes from wild parties or bad influences. Role models and icons come in all shapes and sizes–musicians, celebrities, and even people your teen knows in real life. Don’t tear down important figures, but it’s okay to stress that everyone can make good and bad decisions. Your tten may love a rock band’s music, but that doesn’t mean they have to play guitar and do cocaine, right?

It’s not just peer pressure to partake in drugs that needs to be on the radar–even old friends and teachers could be a potential point of failure. Good friends don’t always have bad intentions–they could be trying to have fun, or loosen up and not understand potentially triggering situations for your teen. Have the conversation NOW with your child and help them set their boundaries. Roleplay some ways they can discuss them with their friends and peers or how to get out of a triggering situation. 

Teachers can be pillars of support or cracks in your child’s armor. Identify the positive adults at school with your teen and find out ways they can spend more time with that teacher. If there is an authority figure your teen butts heads with, strategize how to diffuse conflict and maybe even how to avoid that adult as much as possible. 

There is no answer that will fit every family, but having some deep conversations can really make all the difference in your child’s success as they return to school. Recovery is an ongoing process and it’s important to identify positive support and potential weaknesses to help stay on track. 


If your teen is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at or visit us at 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 To Talk To Your Teen About Before School Starts

As we gear up to go back to school, we all start planning for the physical aspects, right? School supplies and new clothes are purchased, the fridge is stocked up with after-school snacks, and appointments for haircuts and dentist check-ups were a success. Heck, we just had Tax-Free Weekend because even the government knows that this is a big time of year for parents! 

The physical needs are a little more obvious, a little more intuitive, but I encourage you to take a moment this year to think about your kiddo’s mental needs as well. They’re walking back into school and back into peer pressure. 

Peer pressure can be positive or negative, but in either case, your teen has the right to decide what their non-negotiables are this year. The best way to make sure your teen is equipped to handle peer pressure is to make sure they know about their own voice. It might be cliche, but communication really is key. 

There are three forms of communication that your teen should be empowered to use before they walk back into that school building this year: peer, parent/teacher, and self. 

The emotional quotient, or EQ, is all about how we feel. How does peer pressure make your child feel? How does talking to authority figures make them feel? Plan ahead with your child’s EQ in mind now and practice communication tacticsit can make all the difference. 


1. Peer Communication


Peer pressure is inevitable, and again, there is a good and bad side to it. Pressure on how to look, on who to hang out with, and on how to act. School is one giant social cue waiting to happen, and that is a lot to handle during puberty!

Empower your child to set healthy boundaries of their own and to set up non-negotiables to guide them under this pressure. If someone encourages them to act or communicate in a way that compromises their boundaries, it’s okay to communicate how that makes them feel. 

Practice makes perfect! Give your child some key phrases to say in the heat of the moment so they can avoid unnecessary confrontation. “Hey, that made me feel __. Please stop.” 


2. Parent/Teacher Communication


The adults in a teen’s life are here to be resources, but we can get lost under the tidal wave of pressure these kiddos face. Emphasize that communication with a trusted adult is not tattle-taling or snitching; it’s upholding the boundaries your child sets for themselves. 

And this doesn’t always have to be a ‘get so-and-so in trouble’ situation: sometimes it’s good to vent to an adult just to get things off their chestno strings attached. Tell your child that the little voice inside of them is very smart, and it knows when something doesn’t feel right. 

This is another great opportunity to practice together. Communicating with parents/teachers should be done calmly and with respect whenever possible to achieve the best, most direct results. 


3. Self-Communication


It may seem obvious to some of us adults, but clear and honest self-communication is so important. It’s that little voice again, the one that tells us how we feel and advises us how to act. Sometimes communication with ourselves is positive, but it can be negative too.

Talk about positive self-talk with your kiddos and empower them to be their own cheerleaders. Okay, maybe with a less cheesy spin: encourage them to be their own advocates. It’s healthy to give yourself a pat on the back and to second-guess yourself. It’s part of being human. 

Self-communication happens a lot internally, but it can also be expressed externally! Writing in a journal, creating private audio diaries, and even drawing are all great ways for your teen to talk to themself and work out the issues they face.


A lot of pressure and anxiety come with going back to schoolfor kids and parents. So, have a plan, have boundaries, and communicate. For additional resources or if your child struggles with substance abuse/mental health, Clearfork Academy is 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, or visit our website at

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Back-to-School: Teen Alcohol Use

School is almost back in session, and so are the back-to-school parties. Experimentation with alcohol may seem like a rite of passage, but we lose nearly 5,000 teens a year to alcohol use.   

The shift from childhood to adolescence to adulthood can be jarring, particularly because of the emotional, physical, and hormonal changes that come with it. Studies have associated underage drinking with the increase in independence teens find as they get older, meaning teens could be more likely to drink just because of their age range. 

One in seven 8th graders try alcohol for the first time within the first few weeks of school, not because they are actively seeking to engage in risky behavior, but often in tandem with growing older. 

Risk-taking behaviors, such as drinking and driving, are the most significant cause of alcohol-related teen deaths. The brain keeps forming well into our twenties, which puts teens at the cognitive disadvantage of not being fully developed as they gain more and more independence. Impulse control is one cognitive process still under construction for adolescents and can make it harder to avoid taking risks or succumbing to peer pressure.

If a child starts actively drinking by the age of 15, they have a much higher chance of creating a long-term dependence on alcohol. Expectancy has also been associated with underage drinking: if a child expects it to be a pleasurable experience, they are more likely to try it for themselves. 

So, how do we help provide guidance as parents during this particularly vulnerable part of the year? It starts with setting our intentions and expectations as we transition from summer (a time of independence for many kiddos) to school (a more structured routine). Start having conversations about drinking now, before the temptations start. 

Discuss the boundaries your home has with alcohol, whatever they may be, early and reiterate them as often as necessary.

If your family needs additional support for your unique situation, please give us a call at 888-966-8604 or email us at to connect with one of our specialists. Our phone, email, and hearts are open 24/7–let’s connect.


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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, or visit us at 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 or visit us at 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, or visit our website at

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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:


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, or visit our website at


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, or visit our website at!


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!