A large number of teens in the U.S. use drugs and this generally frightens parents. Many are at a loss for how to deal with their teen's drug use and they often ask can I use punishment on my teen using drugs?
Punishing your teen may seem like a natural answer to the problem. After all, that's probably how you've guided your child since infancy. However, your teen is now an emerging young adult with increasing autonomy and self-direction. Right now communication with your teen is crucial. Using punishment might only push them farther away. It's important to keep an open communication, to be positive, and to be supportive. Perhaps most important of all, it's essential to avoid over-reacting.
Experimenting with alcohol and drugs is natural, normal, and to be expected. Usually, there's no reason to become alarmed. However, if your teen's use is clearly leading to poor school performance, serious behavioral problems, legal troubles, or other serious issues, then you should be concerned. But again, don't over-react.
It may be tempting to send your teen to Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) or another 12 step program. Doing so would probably be counterproductive and cause more harm than good. Twelve step programs require members to believe that they are the victims of a disease of addiction, that they are powerless over their "disease," that they will always be addicted, that they must completely abstain from drugs of any type for the rest of their lives, that they must always be fearful of relapse, that they must avoid family and friends who use substances, and they will require 12 step support for the rest of their lives.
Federal and other research has found that members of 12 step groups and programs are less likely to become and remain clean and sober than are those who do so on their own. In other words, use of the 12 steps actually reduces the chances of becoming drug free!
Teens learn to use drugs from other teens and sometimes from watching family members use drugs. Drugs are everywhere. They are on TV, in schools, in social media, music â€“ there really is no escaping the culture of drugs in our society. However, your teen can learn to deal with having to live in an environment of drugs and your teen can learn to reject using them.
Some television programs promote the idea of tough love and interventions. This is not the time to alienate your teen; this is the time to show compassion and support. Subjecting your teen to a 12 step program with its barrage of labeling, name calling and being made to feel worthless will only make them turn to the one thing that they believe gives them acceptance â€“ drugs and their friends who use them.
Abusing alcohol and drugs is not a disease and people are not fated to a life of helplessness and fear of relapse for the rest of their lives. Teaching people that they are helpless and will always be addicts often creates a self-fulfilling prophesy of helplessness and continued use of drugs. Research has demonstrated that the more people believe they are helpless against drug use, the more likely they are to continue using drugs.
Most teens don't need any type of rehabilitation or "treatment." But for those few who do need help, the good news is that there is a highly effective alternative to 12 step programs and the revolving door of rehabs.
St. Jude Retreats provides a non-treatment educational program. It doesn't use any of the 12 steps and it doesn't use moral judgments, labels, or manipulation to control guests. The St. Jude program uses Cognitive Behavioral Learning to teach guests how to prioritize their life goals, self-evaluate their actions, develop behavior patterns that promote their goals, and use specific tools to enjoy a gratifying life without alcohol or drug problems.
The six week program at St. Jude Retreats helps teens increase their self-esteem and self-confidence and it focuses on real concerns that affect the teen's life every day, including peer pressure, school issues, selecting friends, and using their free time wisely. They learn how to achieve their goals without the use of drugs.
Families are encouraged to follow along with their love one on a website that St. Jude Retreats created specifically for them. It includes sample lesson plans, planned activities, and helpful information for when your teen returns home. Sundays are our family day and families are welcome to spend the day on campus and to enjoy brunch and dinner with them.
Some teens benefit from spending a little more time at St. Jude Retreats to help them become more confident in their new life without drugs. For this reason, we created the Personal Review and Enhancement Program (PREP) that gives young people additional reinforcement before returning home. PREP covers additional topics such as academic performance, preparing for and applying to college, potential careers and military service entrance.