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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Monday, October 30, 2017

What if Your Teen Uses Drugs AND Has Anxiety, ADHD or Bipolar Disorder?



Many teens suffer from depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder or some other mental illness. This puts them more at risk for developing a drug or alcohol problem.
Although not all teens with these disorders will develop a substance use problem, chances are higher when they have difficulty regulating their thoughts and emotions. Because of this, parents with children with psychiatric conditions should be vigilant about the possibility of their teen using drugs or alcohol.

Unfortunately, many teens with a mental health disorder turn to alcohol or other drugs to self-medicate. In fact, the majority of adolescents and young adults battling substance abuse and dependence may have an undiagnosed, untreated mental illness.

When a child gets diagnosed with a mental health disorder, in addition to alcohol or drug use and dependence, he or she has “co-occurring disorders,” also known as a “dual diagnosis.” When a child has co-occurring disorders, they should be treated for each of the diagnoses. Treating alcohol or other drug abuse and dependence/addiction alone does not help underlying mental disorders, and similarly, treating a depressive disorder alone will not treat addiction.

If your child has been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, find a treatment program that specializes in treating dual disorders. Or find a treatment program that can make referrals to services to help treat your child’s mental disorder, while simultaneously getting treatment for alcohol or other drug use and dependence. Make sure to ask treatment providers whether their program is equipped to handle this.

(Partnership for Drug-Free Kids)