Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse
When to See a Health Professional
If you think that your teen is using alcohol or drugs, gather all the information you can before taking your teen to a health professional. This will help ensure an accurate diagnosis.
Health professionals who can diagnose and treat substance abuse problems include:
- Medical doctors (such as a Reference family physician Opens New Window, Reference general practitioner Opens New Window, Reference pediatrician Opens New Window or Reference psychiatrist Opens New Window).
- A Reference physician assistant Opens New Window.
- A Reference nurse practitioner Opens New Window.
Professional counseling for addiction, either individually or in a group setting, can be done by a:
- Reference Psychologist Opens New Window.
- Reference Social worker Opens New Window.
- Reference Licensed mental health counselor Opens New Window.
If the health professional believes that your teen may have a substance abuse problem, he or she will ask about your child's medical history and will do a physical exam. He or she will ask questions about your teen's attitude toward substance use, the history of use, and any effects of drug use. The health professional will want to talk with your teen in private.
Urine, blood, or hair drug analysis (Reference toxicology testing) or a Reference blood alcohol test is not usually done to diagnose abuse problems. Health professionals typically will not do these tests without the teen's consent. Parental consent is not enough unless there is a medical or legal reason for testing.
The health professional may try to find out if your teen has Reference attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Opens New Window, Reference conduct disorder Opens New Window, Reference depression Opens New Window, long-term depressed mood (dysthymic disorder), Reference anxiety disorders Opens New Window, or Reference post-traumatic stress disorder Opens New Window. These health problems are common in teens who abuse substances. Your child's doctor will want to treat these problems and the substance abuse.
Your doctor may refer you to a professional who is experienced in teen alcohol and drug problems.
Ideally, when your child is in grade school, your doctor will begin asking about your child's attitudes toward alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. As your child grows, the doctor will continue to discuss this issue during medical visits. Getting help at an early age is very important. That's because early substance use increases the chance that your child will become dependent on alcohol or have other risky behaviors.
A health professional who suspects that you or another family member has a substance abuse problem will discuss treatment. Getting treatment early for yourself (or another family member) decreases your child's risk of having a substance abuse problem. Also, your child will be more likely to get treatment early if he or she does develop a substance abuse problem.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference July 20, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
- Topic Overview
- Health Tools
- Facts About Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse
- Why Some Teens Abuse Alcohol and Drugs
- Prevention Strategies
- Is Your Teen Using Alcohol or Drugs?
- When to See a Health Professional
- Finding the Right Treatment for Your Teen
- Other Places To Get Help
- Related Information