Archive for April, 2018

TeensThe term high functioning addict refers to someone who is outwardly successful while inwardly struggling with addiction. In contrast to the stereotypical vision of an addict as someone who is disheveled in appearance, struggling financially, and frequently in trouble with the law, a high functioning addict appears to have it all together.

People of all ages can be high functioning addicts, but this problem is most often seen with teens abusing drugs or alcohol. Teens can be high functioning simply because they have fewer responsibilities to juggle. However, once a teen heads off to college or the workforce, it will likely become more apparent that a problem exists.

Signs of a High Functioning Teen Addict

Learning to identify the signs of a high functioning addict can help you get treatment for your teen before drug or alcohol abuse takes over his or her life. Here’s what to watch for:

Seeming ill or irritable in the morning. Many teens dislike waking up early for school, but a teen with a drug or alcohol problem may complain of constant headaches, irritability, and fatigue during the morning hours. This could be the signs of withdrawal, which occurs when an addictive substance leaves the body.

A new group of friends with drinking or drug issues. Hanging out with a crowd that likes to “party” indicates that your teen is likely engaged in risky behaviors. Peer pressure can be a powerful motivator for young people.

Avoiding time with parents or concerned adults. A teen who is hiding an addiction may make excuses to avoiding spending time with people who have expressed worry about his or her drug or alcohol use. Your teen may wish to avoid a confrontation or be trying to protect others from knowing the truth.

Unexplained finances. A teen who has no job, but suddenly seems flush with cash may be dealing to support a drug habit. Items that go missing in your home or cash that disappears from your wallet may also indicate your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol.

Losing interest in sober hobbies. If your teen suddenly stops wanting to participate in extracurricular activities at school or past hobbies at home, this may suggest a preoccupation with drugs or alcohol.

An extreme desire for privacy. Although teens are entitled to some privacy, a teen who won’t answer basic questions about his or her whereabouts may have something serious to hide. Monitoring phone and computer usage may be necessary for your teen’s safety.

Convincing an Addicted Teen to Seek Help

A young high functioning addict is likely to be in deep denial. He or she may think that everything is under control, especially when school work and relationships with friends seem to be fine. However, the following signs indicate a problem regardless of how things appear to the casual observer:

  • Your teen believes drugs or alcohol are necessary to relax.
  • Your teen forgets what happened while he or she was under the influence.
  • Your teen makes poor decisions while under the influence, such as drinking and driving.
  • Your teen drinks or uses drugs when he or she didn’t intend to.
  • Your teen develops a tolerance or needs more of the abused substance to experience the same effects.
  • Your teen feels ill or experiences other designs of withdrawal when unable to use.

Planning an intervention is an excellent way to encourage a teen to seek treatment. An intervention is a structured meeting where parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, coaches, friends, and other concerned parties come together to express their concerns and present a plan for treatment. This is done without judgement or accusation, but consequences are given for refusal. Review our post on How to Plan an Intervention to learn more.

How Treatment Promotes a Lasting Recovery

Addiction treatment depends on specific substance being abused and if a teen has any special considerations such as a co-occurring mental health disorder. However, the process typically begins with medical detox to clear the body of the addictive substance. During detox, a team of medical professionals provide 24/7 supervision and emotional support.

After detox, a teen will enter residential treatment. Individual and group therapy helps a teen learn the coping skills necessary to lead a fulfilling sober life. Holistic treatments such as music or art therapy help reinforce key lessons. Family therapy can help promote positive communication and break patterns of enabling or codependency.

Residential treatment is followed by a detailed aftercare plan that involves outpatient therapy, 12-step groups, and various community-based recovery resources. This helps create the support system necessary for a lasting recovery.

If you’re concerned about your teen’s drug or alcohol use, St. Joseph Institute for Addiction can help. Contact us today to learn more.

By Dana Hinders

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Forgiving addicted parentsParents are supposed to provide their children with a source of support, strength, and unconditional love. Unfortunately, the parent-child relationship can be severely strained by the burden of addiction.

Find a Way to Confront Your Feelings

Parental addiction is more common than one might expect. Studies estimate that more than 28 million people in the United States have a parent who is addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Children with parents who suffer from substance abuse face a number of struggles in their early years. For example:

  • Looking after parents when they are drunk or intoxicated
  • Caring for younger siblings in a parent-like role
  • Cooking, cleaning, and performing other tasks associated with running a household
  • Having a lack of support to succeed in school
  • Enduring emotional neglect
  • Suffering physical abuse
  • Worrying about family finances, including the risk of hunger and homelessness
  • Being fearful that someone will find out about a parent’s addiction and separate the family
  • Feeling socially isolated from peers due to problems at home

Growing up with an addicted parent leaves a child with unresolved emotional issues, including feelings of resentment, fear, anxiety, bitterness, mistrust, and depression. To heal, you need to find a way to confront the trauma you’ve suffered and acknowledge how it has affected you.

Speaking to a counselor can help you process childhood trauma, as can attending a support group such as Al-Anon. Writing in a journal or expressing yourself through art and music can also help you explore your feelings about your childhood in a safe environment..

Separate Your Parent from the Addiction

To let go of past hurts, you must be able to separate your parent from his or her addiction. Substance abuse is a chronic illness with a biological basis. Once addiction takes hold, it’s very difficult to get your life back on track without professional intervention.

Recognizing that your parent wasn’t fully in control of his or her actions due to the influence of alcohol or drugs might mean brainstorming a list of happy memories to focus on. Remembering times when your parent wasn’t actively using can help remind you of your mother or father’s love.

Acknowledge that Parenting Is Difficult

Unfortunately, there is no rule book for parenting. Even the most well-intentioned parents with access to a strong support system can make terrible mistakes. If you’re harboring resentment towards your addicted parent, it might be helpful to acknowledge that no parent is perfect. All anyone can do is try to make the best of the given circumstances.

Acknowledging that no parent is perfect may include exploring the factors in your parent’s past that contributed to his or her addiction. Since substance abuse often runs in families, he or she may have grown up with an addicted parent. Depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues may also have played a role. While this doesn’t excuse bad behavior, it does help provide you with a better understanding of the challenges your parent was facing during your childhood.

Realize Forgiveness Is for Your Own Benefit

You might feel as though your addicted parent doesn’t deserve your forgiveness if he or she hasn’t specifically expressed remorse for past actions. While this is understandable, it’s important to realize that forgiveness is primarily for your benefit.

Holding on to resentment from the past affects your current relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. It makes you angry, scared, and afraid to move forward. Letting go makes it possible for you to move forward.

Imagine you have $86,400 in your bank account. If you discovered that someone stole $10 from you, would you spend the remaining $86,390 in hopes of seeking revenge? Would you risk being left with nothing instead of accepting the loss and moving on?

There are 86,400 seconds in every day. Letting go of the negative aspects of your past gives you time to focus on the blessings you do have.

Focus on Controlling Your Future

The past has already happened. For better or worse, previous events are out of your control. However, you have the power to decide how your future will unfold. You can either hold on to wounds from the past or decide to make a fresh start. The choice is yours alone.

If you’re struggling with substance abuse issues yourself, you can break the cycle of addiction by asking for help. Addiction may have a biological basis, but genetics aren’t destiny. Substance abuse can be treated with a medically assisted detox followed by a combination of individual and group therapy. Seeking treatment can help you build a better life for yourself and your loved ones.

By Dana Hinders

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