What to do when your teen is using drugs and/or alcohol

If you are like many parents, the temptation is to deny the ugly reality that teen substance use has hit home. But disbelief and denial only allows the problem to continue and worsen. Your teen’s behavior and moods may indicate their use of illegal drugs or alcohol.

What can I do?

  1. Don’t panic! Talk with your teenager about your worries and how you feel. Losing your cool could make the situation worse.
  2. LEARN about the drug scene in your community by contacting local schools, hospitals, or substance abuse treatment center.
  3. Avoid LENGTHY discussions while your teen is under the influence.
  4. Determine the DEPTH of the problem. Is your teen experimenting or has it become a habit?
  5. Seek APPROPRIATE treatment. A local counselor will be familiar with available services and can assist you in developing a short-term plan while you and your teen get the help they need.
  6. Select the BEST TREATMENT for your teen and family. Ask questions such as: What treatment approaches does the program use? How will our family be involved in our teen’s substance abuse treatment? What will the treatment cost?
  7. Ask for HELP. Contact your local Children and Family in Need of Services (FINS) agency for free counseling, support and shelter services. Make an appointment for yourself even if your teen refuses to go with you.


If your teen is under the influence, contact law enforcement and request they assess your child for referral to a detox program. Contact your local Clerk of Court about the Marchman Act that may allow for involuntary referral of your teen to a treatment program.

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