What to do if your teen has a problem

Phoenix House is committed to protecting and supporting you and your loved ones, and everyone affected by substance abuse and dependency. These steps are a helpful resource if you think someone you love has a problem.

What To Do

  1. Try to be calm and factually honest in speaking to your teen about their behavior.
  2. If you are reading and learning about drug &and alcohol abuse, or attending support groups, let your teen know.
  3. Discuss the situation with someone you trust – a friend, colleague, someone from the clergy, a social worker, a counselor, or someone you know who has experienced drug and alcohol abuse personally.
  4. Establish and maintain a healthy atmosphere in the home, and try to include your teen in family life.
  5. Explain the nature of alcoholism and drug abuse as an illness to other children in the family.
  6. Encourage new interests and participate in leisure time activities that your teen enjoys.
  7. Be patient and live one day at a time. Recovery does not occur overnight.
  8. Try to accept setbacks and relapses with calmness and understanding.


What Not To Do

  1. Don’t attempt to threaten, bribe, or preach.
  2. Do not cover up or make excuses for your teen or shield them from the consequences of their behavior.
  3. Don’t argue with your teen when they have been drinking/using.
  4. Don’t drink/use in front of your teen, even if you don’t have a problem.


(Adapted from : Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)

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