Dr. John Sharp, a respected psychiatrist, author, and faculty member at Harvard Medical School and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, explains early substance abuse as the combination of two evils: (1) a genetic tendency to be prone to addiction, and (2) an altering of the chemical balance that is still forming within the brain during the teenage years.
In a recently published video, Dr. Sharp discusses the importance of the parental role in early intervention. The primary focus of the video is that although it may be a difficult task to intervene in your teen’s unhealthy habits, it is absolutely necessary to address the issue as quickly as possible.
Addiction Risks During Teen Years
Researchers and scientists have studied the correlation between the early onset of addiction and addictive behaviors as well as the duration of those behaviors. These studies have indicated that if a young person begins to abuse drugs at an early age as the brain is still developing, the teen will find it increasingly difficult to overcome the issue of addiction as he ages.
But this is just the beginning. The frontal lobe area of the brain responsible for the decision-making process is not fully developed in a teenager, and therefore the decisions made while on drugs will contrast sharply with those of an adult faced with a similar problem. The result can include problems such as:
- Vehicle use or misuse while under the influence
- Trespassing or other criminal mischief
- Unprotected sex
- The mixing of drugs and alcohol, which often leads to overdose
How to Intervene
Practicing “tough love” by taking a stand and confronting your son may be difficult but it is a necessary step that could save your child’s life. It is important for your son to know that you love and care about him and that, because you care, you will hold him accountable for his actions. For his safety and his future prospects, it is imperative that he be admitted to a treatment program if he is unable to stop abusing drugs and alcohol. A rehabilitation center designed specifically to meet the needs of teens at their level of development can increase the efficacy of care and improve overall outcome.
At Muir Wood, our teen rehab program is also male-specific. Boys between the ages of 12 and 17 are invited to attend, learning the coping skills that will help them to make more positive choices for their future. Contact us today at the phone number listed above or download our admissions packet to learn more about our program.