We know that teenagers are not exactly averse to taking risks. They begin to prioritize peer relationships and are terrified being left out. An article from Psychology Today explains, “… changes in the brain during early adolescence that make teens more focused on the rewards of peers and being included in peer activities. This increased focus on peers occurs during a time when the PFC is not yet ready to assist in mature self-regulation. These factors provide a “perfect storm” of opportunities for risky behavior.” Teen substance use issues are one of the risky behaviors some teens choose to engage in.
While taking some risks is normal, and a part of learning to navigate life, there are some risks that have higher dangers, such as drinking. Oftentimes teens who are struggling with mental health, are even more susceptible to the addictive nature of alcohol. They turn to alcohol to feel more comfortable in a social environment, or maybe they don’t feel confident enough to say no. It could also be that teens with mental health issues turn to alcohol to numb their symptoms or struggles.
If your child is struggling with their mental health, and you believe that they may be experimenting with alcohol, below are some steps you can take towards finding a solution.
Create a Safe Environment for Thrill Seeking: Adolescents enjoy testing limits, whether that’s their physical limits, or the limitations parents put on them. Alcohol is a way of testing those limits, but there are other ways to tap into that thrill seeking need. Adventure activities like rock climbing or ziplining lets your child test their limits, but it can be done in a controlled environment. These are also great activities to do in groups, which encourages positive peer interactions.
Supervise Peer Interactions: For both younger and older adolescents, it is important to supervise your child and their peers. While we may want to let teens have some independence, if there are any concerns about alcohol experimentation, parents must stay engaged. Letting the group know that there are clear expectations and rules for gatherings can help limit the opportunities for risky behavior.
Explore the Why: Chances are your child knows that drinking is not a good choice. She’s heard it from you. She’s heard it from teachers. She’s heard it on after school specials. So instead of telling their not to do it because it’s bad, ask her: “Why?” What is they gaining from the experience? What is it doing for her? When they can identify why they are experimenting with alcohol, you can begin to try to replace that need for alcohol with a healthier coping strategy.
Group Therapy: As we have already established, peer relationships are the top priority for many teens. Because of this, your child will likely open up to their peers much more quickly that they will to you. This is where a resource like group therapy can be very beneficial. While working with a mental health professional, they can also be engaged in a group of peers who may be struggling with similar issues. It’s a place to connect with and support others. Group members can relate to each other’s experiences and offer guidance.
Solstice RTC Can Help With Teen Substance Use Issues
Solstice RTC helps teen students on their journey towards healing by utilizing a unique blend of therapeutic techniques based upon both traditional and holistic treatment methods. Programming is specifically designed to treat teen students between the ages of 14-17. We strive to empower teenage people with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life. Solstice RTC can help girls and assigned female at birth who are struggling with issues such as impulse control, low self esteem, teen substance use issues, and social interactions. We utilize many therapeutic approaches like group and adventure therapy. For more information about Solstice RTC, please call (801) 406-7256.