If your teenager develops a substance abuse addiction, it’s because he or she feels intense emotions, can’t think clearly about the consequences, and can’t talk rationally explain why they are acting out.
Consequently, trying to help them as a parent can baffle and frustrate you. Their defensive anger prevents you from engaging in a meaningful dialogue. When confronted about the addiction, they are often sullen, defiant, and unwilling to accept any help.
How can you help defuse a teen’s irrational behavior rather than escalate it?
The best way is to arrange a therapeutic intervention so that they agree to a comprehensive course of treatment. For instance, teen treatment in Santa Barbara from Mission Harbor offers therapy programs around school schedules for outpatient drug and alcohol rehab.
If the therapeutic intervention fails, two other ways of turning things around are to encourage them to rewrite their story as if they were a movie scriptwriter or to get involved in sports at school.
Arrange for a Therapeutic Intervention
Therapeutic intervention is a way of getting an adolescent reluctant to accept any help to admit that they have a problem and agree to join a rehab program. The best way to arrange a therapeutic intervention is to ask a professional intervention specialist to plan an appropriate intervention strategy.
Psychology Today explains that an “interventionist may be registered or certified in the state in which they practice. Reputable rehabilitation centers and addiction specialists may be able to refer you to a professional interventionist.”
Encourage Your Teen to Flip Their Script
Ask your adolescents to stop thinking of themselves as a victim, but see themselves as the hero of their own story.
Movies often start with a conflict. The opening scene shows how the hero struggles with an overwhelming problem. As the story unfolds, the hero takes constructive action to turn things around for themselves.
According to Movie Outline, “Apart from drawing your audience into the story, using conflict also makes it more rewarding for your characters and the audience when the hero does finally get the girl or save the planet from imminent destruction.”
While their initial efforts may flounder, the hero eventually finds a few things that work and overcomes their problem.
Essentially, then, you’re asking your teen to reinterpret what is happening to them and to focus on all the ways they can create a better life.
Suggest Joining a Sports Team at School
If your teen is reluctant to accept therapeutic help or unwilling to use their imagination to envision alternative possibilities for themselves, then an indirect method to persuade them to change is to suggest that they sign up for a sports team in school.
Here is why this indirect method can be effective:
Exercise changes brain chemistry. It increases endorphins, lifts moods, and has positive effects on cognition, improving mental clarity, increasing alertness, and enhancing memory.
Exercise also restores habits for getting a good night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep helps the body to recover from the exorbitant amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, activated during the day.
Sports also have many other benefits, such as providing a sense of purpose and enjoying a sense of camaraderie with team members.
Joining a team will help your teen move past their mental blocks and physical inertia. It will also decrease their sense of feeling isolated and lonely. As they begin to feel better, they’ll spontaneously begin to make better decisions on how to take charge of their lives.
Since simply trying to dissuade an adolescent to quit abusing substances that numb out their feelings is unlikely to work, you have to break their pattern of self-defeating thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Two direct ways of getting them to change are to enroll them in a rehab program or ask them to reimagine themselves the way they would like to be. An indirect way for them to change is to get them to feel better about themselves by joining a sports team so that they feel empowered enough to begin to sort out their own issues.