“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years”.  Author unknown, commonly attributed to Mark Twain

Shepherding teenagers safely into adulthood can be a real challenge. Sometimes some outside help is needed.  Health plans will pay for drug addiction/counseling.  They will also pay for visits to a mental health professional for the same co-pay as a doctor visit if you have doctor co-pays with your policy.  With a high deductible health plan and no doctor co-pays you would have to meet the deductible.  However, some health plans will allow you to receive the network discounts for the visits even though you have not met the deductible.

One of the toughest things for a parent to deal with is substance abuse by a child.    Teens can be cranky and moody all on their own so it’s sometimes difficult to tell if it’s normal teenage angst or a more serious problem.

Dr. Rick Voakes, MD is a board-certified pediatrician practicing in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  He has a great web site called Health-Bytes.  Dr. Voakes has a great blog up called “Drug Abuse Signs in Teens”.  I think you will find it very informative.

“Alcohol and other drug abuse are a common problem among teens.  Here are the facts from some national surveys:

  • •93% of all high school seniors have used alcohol.
  • •19% (one out of five) of high school students is an alcoholic (33 million nation-wide).
  • •Average age for the first drink is 12 1/2 years.
  • •45-60% of all fatal accidents involving young drivers are alcohol-related.
  • •Drunk driving is the leading cause of death in the 15-25 age groups.

Among high school seniors:

35% have used stimulants (speed).

16% have used cocaine.

13% have used sedatives (downers).

  • •Children of alcoholics develop alcoholism more often than children of non-alcoholics.

Dr. Voakes then goes on to do a check list of questions which may indicate drug or alcohol abuse:

1. Has your child’s personality changed dramatically?

2. Is your supply of liquor, mood or diet drugs decreasing?

3. Is your child less responsible about doing chores?

4. Has he/she lost interest in school?

5. Has your child changed friends?

6. Does your child seem to have plenty of money but no job?

7. Have neighbors, friends or others talked to you about your child’s behavior or actual drug taking?

8. Has your child been arrested for drunkenness?

9. Does your child strongly defend his/her right to use alcohol or other drugs?

10. Does your child “turn off” to talks about alcohol and other drug addictions?

11. Does your child get into fights with other youngsters?  With other family members?

12. Are there medical or emotional problems?

13. Do you detect physical signs?

14. Does your child often lie to you and to others?

15. Does your child volunteer to clean up after adult cocktail parties?

16. Do you find bottles or drugs in the bedroom, garage, car or van?

17. Is your child irresponsible in using the family car, taking it without permission, making excuses for not getting home on time

18. Does your child stay alone in his or her bedroom most of the time, bursting forth only occasionally?  Does he/she resent questions about activities and destinations?

19. Have your child’s relationships with other family members deteriorated?  Does he/she avoid family gatherings which were once enjoyed?

20. Has your child been caught dealing in drugs or giving them to friends?

If your child matches several of the warning signs — get help!  Call your pediatrician or local mental health office and be sure to discuss your concerns with the school.