“Is my child using drugs? What can I do?”

Today, experimentation with drugs is starting younger than ever. In fact, some children begin experimenting with alcohol, marijuana or tobacco as early as 10 years old. If you are concerned that your teen may be using drugs or may start someday, it’s never too soon to get the information you need. The good news is that Rosecrance is here to help.

Brain development and its role in addiction

Pre-teen and teen years are a critical period because addictive substances cannot be safely used by this age group. There are two reasons why:

  1. The areas of the brain that are needed for decision-making, judgment, impulse control, emotion and memory are not fully developed until the mid-twenties. This makes young people more likely to take risks compared to adults. Risk-taking can include experimenting with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
  2. When the brain is still developing, addictive substances physically alter its structure and function faster and more intensely than occurs in adults. These effects interfere with brain development, which can affect the user’s judgment and increase addiction’s risks.

[Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 2011]

Does my child need help?

The disease of addiction can be hard to recognize, especially in a growing child or teenager. It can be hard to know if this is just a phase or period of experimentation — or if your child is on a path to addiction. Making it even more difficult, your child may insist that there is no problem at all.

You want to trust your child, and it’s easy to second-guess yourself. All parents go through this. However, if there is any question in your mind, it’s always best to have a professional evaluation. Trained counselors will give you the answers you need and you, your child and your family will be able to go on with life.

Rosecrance provides free, confidential consultations along with educational and prevention services to help teens and their families. You can contact one of our many drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers located in and around Chicago, Northern and Central Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin by calling (866) 330-8729.

For more information, download our informational brochure.