Substance use disorders get worse over time. The earlier treatment starts the better the chances for long-term recovery. Many families are wrongly told to “wait for rock bottom” and that their loved one needs to feel ready to seek treatment in order for it to work. The idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous. Imagine if we waited until stage 4 to treat cancer. Decades of research has proven the earlier someone is treated, the better their outcomes — and that treatment works just as well for patients who are compelled to start treatment by outside forces as it does for those who are self-motivated to enter treatment.

Signs & Symptoms
Behaving differently for no apparent reason — such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile
Disinterest in activities that were previously enjoyable
Loss of money, missing valuables, and borrowing
Change in daily routine
Loss of interest in overall health, hygiene, preventative and dental care
Changes in mood
Change in weight or appearance
Change in weight, eating or sleeping habits
A decline in performance at school
Change in peer group
Secrecy regarding phone
A tendency to disappear for hours at a time
Deteriorating relationships
Inability to be present when in conversation

Talk Early & Often
The research is clear– talk early and often with your kids about the risks of using alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, prescription medications and other substances. This isn’t a one-time chat, but an ongoing dialogue that will change over time. Try to bring it up in casual settings where everyone can talk freely, such as during a meal, on a walk, or while in the car. Talking about teen substance use does not increase usage– in fact, just the opposite.