Drs. Ron and Cherie Santasiero know all to well the consequences of teen addiction. They’ve written the essential resource guide for anyone caring for or living with a teen: Addicted Kids; Our Lost Generation: An Integrative Approach to Understanding and Treating Addicted Teens. Dr. Ronald Santasiero reveals, “These are good kids who are lost, and too many dying due to addiction. We have seen families of people we love torn apart. If society doesn’t start addressing this epidemic of teen addiction soon, we will lose a significant portion of our next generation.”
Not only do they want to teach us how to help those affected, they want us to know that it can be averted, and learning preventative measures and common risk factors could possibly mitigate future family pain.
Here’s their guide for what to do and what not to do if you are the parent or friend of a teenage addict.
1.DO get Professional Help: Addiction treatment requires multiple professionals, including physicians and skilled counselors with experience in addiction. Even with professional help, treatment is ongoing and intensive, especially in the first few months.
2.DO educate yourself about addiction: Much of addiction is biochemical and it helps to understand that teens cannot control their behavior without help. This is notsomething that you can talk out of them or will out of them. Before addicts can begin to heal, they first need to detoxify from the drug, then get substitution therapy, and rebuild their brain chemistry. They need to understand their addiction, get counseling for psychological issues, and rebuild self-esteem. This is something that’s going to take a long time, a lot of work, and facilitation by professionals.
3. DO be supportive, but do not enable: It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between supporting and enabling, but this will be discussed in our counseling section. Some things are very clear. If your teen has a cell phone and you are paying for the cell phone, stop paying. If they have a car or insurance that you are paying for, stop. Helping your child requires you to withdraw financial support until he or she gets treatment.
1. Don’t hide or throw away drugs hoping the teenager will stop: This is not going to happen. The teen will find other ways to get his or her drugs, and he or she will only be angry and rebel.
2. Don’t attempt to punish, threaten, bribe, or preach: The teen will agree to anything as long as you stop badgering him or her. Threatening and punishing do not work, because this is a biochemical process that is beyond his or her control, and the addiction can be much stronger than the teen’s willpower.
4. Don’t argue with a teen when he or she is high: First of all, he or she is not able to absorb what you are saying, let alone assimilate the information in an intelligent manner. You have to remember that the teen’s sense of right and wrong is already disconnected, and when he or she is high, this is magnified a number of times.
5. Don’t take drugs with the teen thinking it will teach them self-control by showing him or her you have control: A hallmark of addiction is the lack of control. Your control over taking an addictive substance has absolutely nothing to do with the teen either learning self-control or exhibiting self-control.
Most parents know their children better than anyone. If you observe any behavior that would make you suspicious that addiction may be an issue, do not ignore it, seek help immediately and you’ll have the best chance of helping your child.
With extensive experience and education, Drs. Ron and Cherie Santasiero have over sixty combined years in medicine. Since 1995, Ron and Cherie have been treating addicted teens, offering integrative care at their practice, The Sedona Holistic Medical Centre. Their new book, Addicted Kids; Our Lost Generation: An Integrative Approach to Understanding and Treating Addicted Teens is available on Amazon.