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Adolescent Addiction: Common Questions Asked by Parents & Guardians

The clinical team at the Dual Diagnosis Clinic at Riley at IU Health receives many questions from parents and guardians about their child's health, the ENCOMPASS treatment program and what they can do to help their adolescent recover from addiction. We thought it might be helpful to share the answers to some of the most common questions on our blog.

Your Questions Answered

Question: Should I abstain from drinking if my child is struggling with an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs?

Answer: When your adolescent first begins substance abuse treatment, it is probably for the best if you do not drink alcohol in their presence. As recovery progresses, it isn’t necessary to abstain, but if you do decide to drink alcohol, make sure you do it in moderation. Also, be sure to keep all alcohol locked up to avoid unnecessary temptation.

Question: What is the difference between a slip and a relapse?

Answer: A slip is a single event of drug or alcohol use. A relapse is a return to a previous pattern of substance abuse. It is not uncommon for adolescents undergoing addiction treatment to have occasional slips. It is important for family members to recognize the difference between a slip and a relapse. If a parent or guardian overreacts when a slip occurs, behaving as if all progress has been lost, a teen may develop a "what's the use?" attitude, which can cause a slip to turn into a relapse.

Question: Why is my child suffering from addiction?

Answer: Addiction is a disease with complex genetic and environmental components. Two environmental factors that can contribute to the development of adolescent drug addiction include having friends and/or family members who engage in substance use and having untreated depression, anxiety and other emotional difficulties. In addition, teens with parents who try to be more like a friend than an authority figure have an increased risk of developing a drug and/or alcohol problem.

Question: Why reward my child for doing what they should be doing?

Answer: When you recognize and reasonably reward your child for positive behavior (positive reinforcement) you are encouraging them to make continued good choices. Studies have shown that positive reinforcement in conjunction with setting and enforcing reasonable consequences for negative behavior is much more effective than the use of punishment alone.

If your child is struggling with substance use or addiction, we can help. Visit the Psychiatry Dual Diagnosis Clinicto learn more about our program or call us at 317.948.3481.

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