Ask The Doc - Teen Substance Abuse

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kenneth Cole, PsyDQuestion: I am worried about my teenager and substance abuse – what do I need to do?

By Dr. Kenneth Cole, Clinical Psychology, Columbia St. Mary’s Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) at the Huiras Center

One need only to read the headlines, ask around the community or look within their own circles to gain an understanding of the impact that drugs and alcohol are having on youth and families in our community. If you are worried about your own child, there are some warning signs that can help you determine if they are involved substance abuse or battling an addiction.

Major changes in behavior and often times a new group of friends are two indicators that predict teenage substance use. Adolescents may also make up unsatisfactory excuses or get angry unnecessarily when confronted. Substance-using adolescents may withdrawal from usual activities and prefer to be left alone.

Now, while a lot of this may sound like typical teenage behavior, these clues may be warning signs to a bigger problem. A simple screening tool can be used by your pediatrician or family doctor to help you assess your teenager’s risk of substance abuse and perhaps stop the problem before it begins. Adolescents using drugs and alcohol need assessment as well as individual and family therapy to move toward recovery.

A study published by the National Institute of Health in 2009 looked at the effects of screening and brief intervention by healthcare providers in predicting and preventing substance abuse. This research showed causation that after screening and brief treatment, the rates of illicit drug use in their study fell 67.7 percent.

The Columbia St. Mary’s Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) is working with our pediatricians and family physicians to screen adolescents seen within our clinics at their annual physical. ASAP hopes to not only help youth recover from drugs or alcohol, but ideally stop use before it even begins.

This open dialogue with their healthcare provider can help to stop use, as well as strengthen relationships within adolescent’s home, help them realize they are not alone and that support is out there.

If you are worried about your adolescent, you can call ASAP directly. For more information about this program call 262-241-6127.

This article appeared in the April 17 issue of The Ozaukee News Graphic.



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