How Teen Drug Abuse Affects your Family

Last Updated on November 30, 2021

Drug abuse affects your family in ways that are harmful and damaging, but your teen isn’t abusing drugs out of malice. Addiction is a disease that compels them to seek out and take drugs, despite the negative consequences. Once a teenager is addicted to drugs, the brain and body have undergone changes that make it hard to stop. The disease then spreads to the rest of the family because it’s a system of closely related parts. Once one part is affected, all are affected.

How teen drug abuse affects your family

Teens experiencing depression or other psychiatric disorders often start using illicit drugs in an attempt to self-medicate. Other times, it’s simply peer pressure or curiosity that motivates teens to experiment with drugs.1 Either way, once addiction develops, families are caught up in a chronic disease that affects all its members. That’s why addiction is considered a family disease.


Addiction affects every aspect of life for your teen, yourself and your family. Over time, your teenager’s drug-using behavior may cause you to be preoccupied by constantly thinking about it or looking for ways to control it. Sometimes, you might be tempted to numb yourself to what’s going on with your child.

Your perception of what a normal life is becomes skewed as your teenager, who is most likely in denial about the problem, accuses you of being the one out of touch with reality. This type of confusion and instability can paralyze a family from taking action.


You and other family members may tolerate behavior from your teenager that normally wouldn’t be considered acceptable. You may also find yourself reacting in ways you later regret. You hope the situation will get better, but it doesn’t. These feelings have all the hallmarks of denial.

Your attempts to discipline the behavior aren’t working. Your life has begun to revolve around the person struggling with addiction, while other family members don’t get the emotional support or attention they used to receive.

The whole family is becoming casualties of the disease of addiction. Things have changed and now you have come to expect less, since normal family life is no longer an option. Denial, in an atmosphere of chaos, keeps you locked into what seems like a hopeless situation.

How common is teen drug abuse?

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), teen drug abuse is a high-profile public health concern and is more common than it should be. Here are some current statistics on teen drug abuse from the NCDAS that demonstrate the severity of the issue:2

  • At least one in eight teens abused an illegal substance in the past year.
  • 50% of teens have abused a drug at least once.
  • 86% of teens know someone who smokes, drinks, or uses drugs during the school day.
  • By the time they’re in 12th grade, 46.6% of teens have tried illicit drugs.
  • 2.08 million or 8.33% of 12- to 17-year-olds nationwide report using drugs in the last month.
  • 12.78% of all 12- to 17-year-olds report using marijuana in the last year.
  • High school students who legitimately use prescription opioids are 33% more likely to misuse opioids after high school.
  • 61.5% of teens have abused alcohol by 12th grade.
  • 407,000 12- to 17-year-olds met the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in the last year.
  • 11.2% of overdose deaths are aged 15 to 24 years.
  • Overdose deaths due to opioids have increased 500% among 15- to 24-year-olds since 1999.

There is hope

Addiction is a treatable disease that can be put into remission with the right help. Treatment programs for both your teen and the family treat the addiction while helping the whole family recover. Contact an addiction specialist who can evaluate your teenager and recommend appropriate treatment.3

Once your teen is in treatment, the family needs counseling. Family addiction therapy helps everyone by giving them the tools to understand and respond drug abuse in useful and helpful ways. It also helps to heal the relationships damaged by drug abuse and improve communication. When your teen returns to a family unit that’s united, healed and healthy, effective and long-lasting recovery is possible for everyone.

At our Austin recovery center, healing for the whole family is our priority. Our 90-day residential rehab program and outpatient drug rehab in Austin, Texas is intended for individuals ages 18 and up. If you’re searching for holistic, individualized rehab in Austin, contact us today by calling (888) 427-4932.


  1. https://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih2/addiction/guide/pdfs/lesson4.pdf
  2. https://drugabusestatistics.org/teen-drug-use/
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-teen-or-young-adult-has-problem-drugs
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