An intervention is a potentially pivotal point in dealing with the problem of teen drug abuse. When successful, it is a moment of recognition, often a difficult, painful recognition, that things cannot continue as they have been. Just like with any rule or line drawn in the sand, an intervention loses its power if it is done indifferently or repeatedly without leading to any change. Of course, if you conduct essential and it doesn’t work for whatever reason, then you must try it again with lessons learned. It is important not give up and let the addiction win. But the sooner you can implement an effective intervention that leads to real change, the better.

What precisely is an intervention?

It’s worth first stopping to think about what the purpose of an intervention is and what it needs to accomplish. Contrary to the popular trope often seen on TV of someone dramatically walking into a room full of everyone they’ve ever known, an effective intervention can be something entirely different. You need to decide where and how the intervention should take place, who should be involved, and the specific goals you want to achieve. Simply confronting your teen about their drug abuse without a plan does not constitute an effective intervention and will likely deteriorate into a routine argument.

Importance of preparation

Preparation is about more than calming down and thinking about the true purpose of an intervention. It also involves research to determine the resources and options available to change the path your teen is on. It is best to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, which is that your teen is in the grip of a dangerously powerful addiction that could lead to their death, that they refuse to see the problem, and that they may have to be put into an inpatient program at a teen rehab center. As an adult responsible for a minor, you have certain rights and responsibilities to do things that are in their best interest, even if they can’t see it at the time.

Who to include

As part of your preparation, think carefully about who should be involved in the intervention. It’s important to present a united front, so anyone who is doubtful and is only going to be there because they feel they should be is better advised to stay away. Consider the inclusion of an older relative, such as a grandparent, as teens often feel they relate to them better than their parents. There is no shame in letting an elder in the family take the lead if that appears to be the best chance for a good outcome. In fact, it is a mark of your wisdom and dedication to do the right thing for your child.

Recognize the grip addiction may have on your teen

It is very likely your teen will respond negatively to your efforts and fiercely resist anything you propose. Your teen may get very emotional, and say harmful things to and about you. Realize that they may not be in proper control of themselves, given that a drug now has a hold over them. It’s essential that you, as the person not in the grip of these powerful forces, not let the frustration get under your skin. You need to be the calm, unemotional person in this struggle.

Encourage them to admit they have a problem

Our brains work very hard to deceive us into thinking that nothing is wrong even when it is. We convince ourselves that the current situation is normal and that everything can be managed. All people have a powerful drive to be able to handle things themselves and can believe that they are in complete control, even when it is blatantly obvious that is not the case anymore. Drug abuse in teens is no different, and you may have to work hard to get your teen to see that they have a problem. Do not allow yourself to be dissuaded once you and others know they are abusing drugs. It is your job to convince them they have a problem, and not your job to allow them to talk you out of helping them, though they will doubtlessly try.

Take advantage of expert knowledge

Having expert knowledge is not just about informing yourself through research, but also making use of programs and facilities like drug treatment centers for teens that best know how to approach this problem effectively. It’s crucial to treat drug abuse in teens with the same seriousness you would any other illness or developmental issue, so be sure to avail yourself of expert help.

If you know someone who is struggling with teen drug problems, contact the Anthony Louis Center to learn about ways to intervene and change their life for the better.


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