Winning the Fight Over Substance Abuse through Counseling

Getting into a drinking binge at a party. Craving that constant high. A teen who starts having discipline problems at school and puts on a rebellious attitude at home. Someone who loses a job or plays the truant in school because he’s always sick due to a hangover. These may be signs of substance abuse.

Substance abuse can be defined as the pathological use of a substance – alcohol, drugs, prescription medication or tobacco. Although a person who has a substance abuse problem may not yet be considered an addict (and there are no issues with withdrawal symptoms), there will be undesirable consequences that will affect an individual’s family life, social life and work life. A person who has substance abuse issues may perform poorly in school or work, have problems with the legal system and may act negligently or carelessly so as to cause harm to themselves and others.

There is also the tendency that substance abuse can devolve into addictions, where people have this uncontrollable compulsion to indulge in his addiction of choice. Over time, there is a feeling of helplessness and lack of self-worth. What they are focused on is how to get the next fix.

It is especially sad for parents to see this happening to their children. Having a child who has substance abuse problems may be one of a parent’s worst fears. That is why it is important for parents to nurture a caring and supportive environment where children feel loved and are less vulnerable to turning to drugs and alcohol. Parents should also be on the lookout for possible substance abuse and act accordingly to help their child win over the temptation to indulge in substance abuse.

Parents should be on the lookout for:

Change in behavior. A teen who is into substance abuse may be suddenly sullen and rebellious and be more insistent about “privacy” and may withdraw from family events. You may notice a change in attitude as the teen becomes more hostile and sullen and may also be caught lying at times. As the substance abuse worsens, you may see increased conflicts with your teen, where he is becoming more and more out of control.

Have alcohol or tobacco in their breath. Or, they may try to mask it by going straight to their rooms to “freshen up”.

Declining performance in school. Grades may start to suffer and there may be complaints about delinquency and truancy, as well as discipline issues in school

Change of peer group. Your teen may start minimizing contact with friends who don’t share the substance abuse problem and may spend more time with other peers who are also substance abusers.

Change in activities. The sports and extra-curricular activities your teen used to enjoy may be dropped. Your teen may also be always “out with friends”.

Mysterious loss of valuables and money. Things may suddenly go missing around the house. Or, your teen may start borrowing money from you, their siblings, other relatives and friends.

Dealing with Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is oftentimes caused by underlying issues the teen feels he has no control over or that he is unable to deal with. That is why going for Utah substance abuse counseling is one important component in treating this problem. It is also most effective when counseling is also coupled with medical treatment.

Going to a substance abuse counselor in Provo will help the teen deal with the underlying cause of the substance abuse. It is also vital in helping them recover their healthy functioning and build healthy relationships with others. Counseling will also help provide essential tools on how to manage this problem and prevent relapses from occurring.

Substance abuse therapy may focus on the emotions and thoughts that lead to the problem. It helps the teens to look into their feelings and identify situations that lead them to the temptation to take on drugs and alcohol – and how these situations can be avoided. Other tools include relaxation techniques to help the individual resist the temptation, manage the stress or anxiety they feel at this time and explore healthy outlets for pent up emotions and anger.

Teens may also feel anger (at their families, friends and even themselves) and therapy will help delve into the root causes of this anger. Through therapy, they are given tools on how they can express this anger in a healthy manner and deal with it constructively.

Families who have a teen who is into substance abuse could also do well to have Utah family therapy. It is important to foster an environment where the teen can see his family and friends support him and make efforts to get him back on track. Family therapy will be helpful to identify if there are any behaviors by family members that “enable” a teen’s substance abuse problems. Family members (especially parents) are also provided with communication tools and how they can effectively resolve any conflicts within the family that may have contributed to the substance abuse problem.

When in Provo, Utah, be sure to look up Dr. Triston Morgan. He is a highly experienced substance abuse counselor in Utah and has treated teens in various settings.


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