Eighty-two percent of teens will have used some type of mood altering substance before they graduate from high school according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The challenges facing parents have never been greater and the resources to help fewer. Parents must somehow try to predict if their child’s use is simply a phase or if they will fall into that 15 to 20% of the population that is destined to experience ever-increasing problems. Likewise, teens are confronted with peers for whom “partying”, is the norm. While the indicators for predicting addiction are inexact, there are certain factors that can give parents a far greater ability of anticipating how alcohol or drugs may affect their child’s future.

These criteria include:

  • Is there a significant family history of alcohol or drug abuse in the natural family?  The closer the history of abuse to the parents (especially the same sex parent) the greater the probability.  Addiction clearly has some basis in family DNA and genetics. Have alcohol or other drugs caused problems for family members on either parent’s side?
  • Has your teen had any past negative consequences related to substance use with a subsequent return to the use again despite parental discipline and or the pain of those consequences? Any return to a behavior, after experiencing pain, is an abnormal response and indicates how important the teen’s substance use has become to him or her. The types of problems include: school, health, legal, relationship, job or financial and constitute the clearest and most consistent indicator of future problems. How much or how often your child has used alcohol or drugs, is much less important, than what happens when they do use. Most importantly—do they go back again?