What Parents need to know about

Teenage Addiction



Produced by the Fraser Recovery Program


How much do you really know about teenage addiction ?


Quiz – True or False



1. It is ok for my child to have a glass of wine at Christmas dinner.


2. It is a problem even if my teenager only drinks and uses drugs on the weekend.


3. Beer is not addictive.


4. My teenager has to be at least 18 years old to be an alcoholic or a drug addict.


5. Addiction can not and will not happen to my child.


6. An alcoholic or a drug addict is someone who drinks or does drugs everyday.


7. Marijuana is addictive.


8. Drinking alcohol and using drugs is just a normal phase that teenagers go through.


9. It is better if my teenager and their friends drink under my supervision.



Quiz – True or False Answers




It is not ok for your child to have a glass of wine at Christmas or any other special occasion. A child’s brain does not finish developing until they are over 20 years old. Any amount of alcohol can have a negative impact on their brain’s development.



Drugs and alcohol have lasting effects and stay in the body throughout the week, which adversely affects their performance at school. Use on weekends can also lead to a build up of chemicals in their brain, which hinders their short term memory and their ability to concentrate. Also, teenagers with addiction problems usually start out as occasional (week-end) users, but their consumption gradually increases over time.



Any beverage which contains the drug commonly known as alcohol is addictive. Hence beer is just as addictive as any other alcoholic beverage.



 Addiction can happen at any age. Once a teenager starts using drugs and alcohol he/she can become addicted within 1 to 3 yrs due to the fact that their brain has not yet finished developing. It can take an adult much longer to develop an addiction. It is also known that a person with a family history of addiction/alcoholism is 33% more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol than someone with no family history of addiction.


Addiction is an equal opportunity disease. Anyone from anywhere can develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol. It does not matter who you are, what your social status is or where you are from. There is nothing to predict when or if a person will develop an addiction.



They are people whose drug or alcohol consumption causes them problems. These may be emotional, financial, academic, family or physical problems.



Marijuana is addictive. Unlike the marijuana in the 60’s and 70’s, today’s marijuana is at least 16 times stronger and contains many different harmful chemicals. Drug dealers have been known to spray pot with substances such as Windex in order to make it heavier and crystal meth to make it more addictive. In addition, it is considered a “gateway” drug, which can lead to other harder drugs.



 Drinking alcohol and using drugs is not a normal part of teenage life. Even if it has been deemed as acceptable behavior by others, it is particularly damaging to the healthy development of teenagers. A certain percentage of those who drink or drug will become addicted and there is no way of telling who those will be.



Even under your supervision they are still at risk of becoming addicted. In fact, this is the most common form of parental permissiveness, even though it is against the law to allow minors to drink



Signs of Teenage Substance Use


Note: These signs are considered to be indicators of teenage substance use; however, these behavioral changes in your teenager may also indicate problems other than substance use.


If your teenager:

goes straight to their room upon coming home, or isolates him/herself from the family.

·       is secretive/defensive about their phone calls, where they go and who they are with.

·       has changed his/her group of friends.

·       has problems with the law.

·       no longer plays sports or does other activities they once enjoyed.

·       often has their bedroom window open to air out their room (even in the winter) or uses lots of air fresheners sprays to hide the smell of marijuana. They may also use fabric softener sheets for this purpose.

·       is no longer achieving the grades they once did in school.

·       is often absent from school. (skips classes)

·       is argumentative.

·       is lazy and generally less motivated than usual.

·       lies and argues more often.

·       does not come home on weekends, avoids the rest of the family. (negative change in their personality)

·       is depressed.

·       is always tired.

·       is hostile.

·       has changed his/her eating and/or sleeping habits.

·       has unusual odor on his/her clothes and in his/her bedroom.

·       is careless with grooming/hygiene.

·       has red, bloodshot eyes.

·       has problems remembering things that just happened.






What Parents must not do





Enabling is acting in ways that make it easy for a user to keep using. Enablers, usually out of false love, take responsibility for the user’s actions, feelings and decisions. This protects the user from facing the negative consequences of their drug and/or alcohol use. For example, calling the school to say that your teen is sick, when in fact he/she is hung over.





Parental permissiveness is a form of enabling whereby parents approve of their teenagers’ drinking and drugging. Example: A parent who says “I don’t object to my teen drinking beer at home where I can supervise, since that is much better than him/her drinking somewhere else” is not only permitting their teenagers to use, but making it easy for them to keep using. Teens who are allowed to drink at home, are more likely to use alcohol and drugs outside the home and could develop serious problems related to substance use.




How to stop enabling



*      Make sure your teenager knows that you do not find alcohol and drug use acceptable or normal.


*      Do not ignore your suspicions that your teenager may be using drugs and alcohol.


*      Do not neglect to talk to your teenager about their drug and alcohol consumption.


*      Ask your teenager about their alcohol and drug use


*      Address your teenager’s negative behaviors that result from their using and follow through with consequences.


*      Do not tolerate any alcohol or drug consumption by them.


*      Do not give your teenager money, if you suspect they are using it to buy drugs and alcohol.


*      If your teenager is using alcohol and drugs, make it as hard as possible for them to use (i.e.: curfew, no sleepovers) Follow through with consequences if they do not follow your rules.


*      If you are suspicious of your teenager using drugs and alcohol it is ok to thoroughly search their room on a regular basis.


*      Do not exclude your teenager from family activities.


*      Do not keep your teenager’s alcohol and drug use a secret, seek the advice of a drug and alcohol counselor.



Where can I go for help?


Alcoholics Anonymous

(418) 986-4474


CSSS des Iles (Gilles Poirier)

986-2121 Ext: 4253



Centre l'Escale (André Marcotte, Director)


Maison des Jeunes (Mario Pichette, Youth Worker)



Portage operates treatment centers for adolescents and adults.

For more information:

·          www.portage.ca

·          (514) 939-0202

·          info@portage.ca


Confidential Hotline

Drugs: help and referral


Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week


Internet resources:

Make A Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol - Parents Booklet http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/MakeADiff_HTML/makediff.htm


Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know



National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism          



      National Institute on Drug Abuse: The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction       



      Canadian Center on Drug Abuse             



      Center for Addiction and Mental health