Adolescence is a precarious time for teens. It can also be a very frightening time for parents as well. There are so many new issues that our children face, that no one has ever dealt with before, that our children can be left to flounder. The pressure on children to succeed, to excel, and to go beyond what has come before, is so intense that many will seek to self medicate, or many will act out in other harmful ways, in order to deal with these overwhelming requirements. While there is a difference between normal teen behavior and addiction, it is important that parents understand exactly when something moves beyond typical drama into addiction: the compulsive use of a substance that harms a person’s health, relationships, or school and work performance (p.15).
Parents need to be prepared to deal with addiction issues and to understand how to help their child if this problem rears it’s evil head. Along this line, Dr. Laurence M. Westreich, in A Parent’s Guide to Teen Addiction, has written a comprehensive book explaining teen addition, what to look for, how to approach the issue, and even more importantly, how to talk to your teen about their issues, explain to them exactly what is addiction, and how you are there to help them.
He actually storifies conversations with your child on these, and many subjects, throughout the book. He calls these conversations Tough Talk. He acknowledges approaching your child about these topics is not easy. But for your child’s sake, these conversations need to be part of your repertoire. Now these discussions are not to be confused with Hard Core parenting, or where they used to tell you to throw your child out of your house if they are on drugs, or overly difficult and disrespectful. Dr. Westreich, makes sure to let you know that at no time do you ever abandon your child. That love, especially when dealing with a teenager with addiction issues, is a battle. But, he also states that it is a battle that you have the strength to wage. It is called love, unconditional love, that gives you, the parent this strength.
After explaining about addiction, what to look for and how to approach your child, Dr. Westreich then discusses the types of addictions. What is important here is that he doesn’t just discuss the use of illegal drugs. He talks about cigarettes, alcohol (which of course is technically illegal for those under 21), food, sex, gambling, performance enhancing drugs, stimulants, antidepressants, and then finishes with a look at how mental illness effects all of these issues and problems. He acknowledges that addiction takes many forms, and has many variants. He tries to view the issue by bringing into focus all of the temptations presented to our children in our modern society.
Finally in section three, he talks about how to get your child help. He outlines the difference between inpatient and outpatient programs. He talks about what to look for in a therapist, and what to make of nationally recognized programs like AA. But just as important, Dr. Westreich discusses the need for on going care, or Aftercare. There is a need to acknowledge that addiction is never cured. It is a lifelong illness that needs to be addressed, and dealt with on a continual basis. It is also important to recognize that your child may relapse, or have a slip up. After all they are merely human, and they are dealing with a major illness that can be triggered by any number of issues.
In the final analysis, Dr. Westreich has written a book, where parents dealing with a teen’s life effecting issue of addiction, can turn and begin the process of finding their fragile and vulnerable child the help and understanding they need.
This book is available as of October 17, 2017.