Alcoholism Assessment. Is the Problem You, Your Child, or Both?

Alcoholism Assessment. Is the Problem You, Your Child, or Both?

i Jul 26th No Comments by

Alcoholism and substance abuse is a family disease. Because of this, you should assess yourself AND your teen. It could be very informative and enable you to understand just how a problem evolved and whether hereditary traits exist. Here is a terrific “about my drinking” self-assessment by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that helps you to determine the degree of a problem. Anyone can take it on line, anonymously.


Determine who really has an alcohol abuse issue. You? Your loved one? Both? Credit: Shutterstock

Face the Facts so you can act.

Thinking there’s no way this could happen to me is a dangerous mindset. The sooner parents realize how prevalent these issues are, including mental health issues, the faster they can face up to the potential reality that a teen needs help. Here is a snapshot from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA, 2014:

  • An estimated 24.6 million individuals aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users in 2013, including 2.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17. In 2013, 60.1 million individuals aged 12 or older were past month binge drinkers, including 1.6 million adolescents.
  • Of the estimated 22.7 million individuals aged 12 or older in 2013 who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem, 2.5 million received treatment at a specialty facility.
  • In 2013, about 1 in 10 adolescents (10.7 percent) had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. Among adolescents with MDE, 38.1 percent received treatment or counseling for depression in the past year.
  • In 2013, nearly 1 in 5 adults aged 18 or older (18.5 percent) had a mental illness (i.e., “any mental illness,” or AMI) in the past year; 4.2 percent had a serious mental illness (SMI); and 3.9 percent had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.
  • In 2013, 1.4 percent of adolescents had co-occurring MDE and substance use disorder (SUD); 3.2 percent of adults had co-occurring AMI and SUD; and 1.0 percent of adults had co-occurring SMI and SUD

Here are some other great guides that will help you.

Intervention Guide – this is the best online alcohol abuse assessment tool, from And it is available online and can be downloaded anonymously. Click Here for access to this resource


6 Questions to Ask your Child about Drug Abuse

i Jul 24th No Comments by

Before you say anything to your child, take a deep breath. Remember that hope and optimism are key components to restoring health. And that 50% of a problem is resolved once we know what the problem is.


Have the conversation with your loved one about drug abuse. And ask about their friendships too. Credit: Shutterstock.

The best way to find out just what is happening is to remain calm and ask what’s going on. A lot of times, kids will tell us. Next step might be an intervention in which the parents address a behavior change, describe what happens when the behavior changes, and ask again for an explanation. The best tools to get you ready for the conversation start here:

Questions to Ask When Confronting Your Child – The CRAFFT Assessment

CRAFFT is a rapid assessment you can ask your teen to take. It is an acronym of first letters of key words in the 6 screening questions. The questions should be asked exactly as written.

  1. Have you ever ridden in a CAR driven by someone (including yourself) who was “high” or had been using alcohol or drugs?
  2. Do you ever you ever use alcohol or drugs to RELAX, feel better about yourself, or fit in?
  3. Do you ever use alcohol or drugs while you are by yourself, or ALONE?
  4. Do you ever FORGET things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
  5. Do your family or FRIENDS ever tell you that you should cut down on your drinking or drug use?
  6. Have you ever gotten into TROUBLE while you were using alcohol or drugs?

CRAFFT is a 2009 MassHealth insurance provider-approved behavioral health screening tool for use with children under the age of 21 from 2009. It was recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Substance Abuse for use with adolescents.

questionstoaskchildblog.young adults in wilderness tent

Start the conversation. Now. Credit: Shutterstock.

There are more questions to ask when confronting your child about drug abuse. Learn different approaches and decide what is right for you.

Immature Brains

Arrested development is behind a lot of teen substance abuse. This will help you understand why the problem is not specific to your teen. And P.S., Hazelden Programs can help you with a phone assessment of your family’s drug problem.

click on this link to get access to more great materials. Click Here.


Best Drug Guides and Assessments for Parent Support

i Jul 20th No Comments by

Every teen substance abuse issue is different. So relying on hear-say or sound bits from others, while a start, will not help your teen recover from an alcohol arrest or a drug problem.

You need help. You need it now. Here’s the core of what you need to know. It’s more than a drug guide. We’ve listed links or downloads for the best insights to answer “what now?”

Best Drug Guides and Assessments – One Pagers

The chart on the link below has valuable info. It describes street names of drugs so you know what to look for in a text. It explains how drugs are used, what they look like, why they’re dangerous, and it includes statistics and signs of abuse. Note to self, “contrary to popular believe, marijuana can be addictive.” Download it now! From Partnership ™ for Drug-Free Kids.

Another Easy What You Need to Know. This link has an exploded view of every drug that teens are misusing today, with detail and dangers on each. We have Federal tax dollars to thank for this comprehensive, user friendly link. Courtesy of National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Assess Yourself and Your Teen

Take the assessment to figure out what really might be going on. Then have your loved one who’s suffering take one. This comes by way of Haselden Betty Ford Foundation, which has other helpful resources and programs for youths and young adults, even for parent who need help dealing with their children. View this resource here.

Here are a few other helpful resources. You can get a free assessment at Talbott Recovery in Georgia. Another option: make a call for free one hour assessment for young adults . Talbott Recovery 800-861-4290 Dunwoody Campus 404-952-2500. Or check them out online.

Don’t let the word addiction frighten you. This 7 page document is a comprehensive snapshot of what you and your teen can do now to get help – the right help.

Literally, What Now that substance abuse is a problem?

i Jul 14th No Comments by

If you’re still reading, you have a teen substance abuse issue in your family.

  1. Assess extent of problem. Has there been an event? Did it involve law enforcement or student affairs? Did it involve injury to a person or property? Did it involve grades? Behaviors, commitments?
  2. Explore a diagnosis
  3. Get educated about what you need to know, look for. Best glossary, every
  4. Seek help for a diagnosis. Seek one of the following, who has a specialty in substance abuse and family counseling: psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, social worker

NOTE: if an event involves toxic amounts of substances, seek a hospital ER immediately. If law enforcement has intervened, chances are your teen will be brought to ER.

literallywhatnowbloggirllightingupwguyIf you can’t find any of the above, seek a high school counselor or college counseling office or health center professional. This is NOT the time to worry about your teen’s privacy. Schools have addressed teen substance abuse and have resources for proper diagnosis and counseling and referral services. Also HIPPA laws protect your child’s privacy anyway.

  • Select a course of action
  • Meet with a doctor or counselor
  • Get another opinion
  • Explore what your insurance will cover. Be sure that if your teen doesn’t need to De-tox, you don’t send them to a 30 day inpatient center, if outpatient care or another approach is better. Often an inpatient center is the only place insurance covers, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right treatment program for your situation. It might be a wilderness camp, or a center for co-occurring disorders, like depression or a bi-polar disorder or personality or eating disorder. Many teens will self-medicate with substances to deal with another psychological issue. Now two teen substance abuse issues are the same. Identifying the problem, and the extent of the problem, is critical. Descriptions of problems or how a counselor might describe a teen can include: occasional user, habitual user, heavy abuser, and addict. The spectrum is broad. Combine that with “co-morbidity” or a co-existing disorder like ADD or depression, and things can get way complicated

Are you scared? Remember two things. Never, ever give up hope for your child.

Remember that teen substance abuse requires honest from parents. The trap of “he’s just experimenting like all his friends” is a dangerous one. If there has been an “event,” chances are, it might not be the first or last event.

Assess the Problem – 20 Signs of Substance Abuse

i Jul 14th No Comments by

No one problem drug or alcohol crisis is the same. Some teens and young adults are serious abusers, some are habitual abusers, some are addicts, and some have made stupid choices to try or abuse substances, which could be “one-off events.” First, we need to recover from the crisis of learning that something is going on. Then we need to get educated quickly. You can start with a parent assessment tool – gather a snapshot of evidence before you confront your child. And don’t be focused on judging or labeling anyone just yet it is counter-productive.

This is a list that we have compiled from numerous sources.

20 Signs of Substance Abuse

    1. Sudden mood change or restlessness
    2. Extra talkative or irritable
    3. Poor coordination
    4. Behavioral changes not otherwise explained
    5. Changes in consciousness, including loss of consciousness
    6. Slurred speech
    7. Poor coordination
    8. Moist or flushed skin
    9. Chills
    10. Nausea or vomiting
    11. Dizziness or confusion
    12. Irregular pulse
    13. Abnormal breathing
    14. Unexplained changes in personality or attitude
    15. Anger outburst
    16. Emotional and Mental Withdrawal
    17. Increased inattentiveness
    18. Lack of motivation
    19. Unexplained anxiousness or paranoia
    20. Change in friendships

Keeping a bedside diary to note all the warning signs of substance abuse, no matter how subtle, is important to track a pattern of behaviors and actions that will support a conversation.

What about Parent Medicinal Cabinets?

signssymptomsblogcutegirlcloseupMonitoring your own prescription drugs, if you have them, is important. Nearly one in five teens, 19%, report abusing prescription medications and getting high. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), factors for getting high include lack of information, and a care-free attitude toward risks involved in using prescription meds improperly. They think, “… if this prescription drug is legal, and it’s available or my folks are using it, then it must be safe.”

Often they use them to seek psychological or physical pleasure or to fit in. And let’s face it’s easier to get prescription drugs than illegal drugs.