Know signs of addictive behavior.

The signs of alcoholism and drug abuse are easy to spot.

It's simple to turn a blind eye, or rationalize that 'every teenager gets drunk or high occasionally,' or 'it's only a stage and they'll outgrow it' - not necessarily.

So read the warning signs below and if your teen has one or more of them, there may be a problem that can't be ignored.

Getting drunk or high on a regular basis.

Lying about things (like where he/she was or who he/she was with) or how much alcohol or other drugs he/she has been using.

Avoiding you in order to get high or drunk.

Giving up activities he/she used to do, such as sports, homework etc.

Hanging out with friends who drink or use drugs.

Having to drink more to get the same buzz.

Believing that they need to drink or use other drugs to have fun.

Pressuring others to drink or use other drugs.

Drinking and driving.

Taking risks, including sexual risks.

Frequent hangovers.

Feeling rundown, hopeless, depressed or even suicidal.

Getting in trouble with the law.

Being suspended from school for an alcohol or other drug-related incident

If you feel there is cause for concern, do something. First, talk to your teen and get the facts. If you need more answers, discuss your concerns with a professional. Talk to a teacher, or guidance counselor and if you still need more answers, your family doctor can refer you to a professional.

Don't be embarrassed to disclose your problem. Professionals won't judge you, your children or your particular situation.

When I work with families in crisis, I hear everyone's concerns, and then work with the adolescent independently. This is effective, because once a teen realizes that the therapist is there to listen to them and keeps confidentially, they become open and relieved to talk about their problems.

I've also found that phone sessions are very affective for teens. It seems that the phone is not as threatening as an office visit and they don't label themselves as 'not normal'. The hard part is getting them to the phone the first time, but once they do they seem to look forward to talking and getting advice. They're also more likely to do the 'homework' of handling their problems and getting on with their lives.

If you think there's a problem, there probably is, but don't over react. There are many parents in the same situation.

The above signs can be prevented with communication tips

Many alcoholics also use cocaine
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