Guest post to Teenology 101 by Ray Hsiao, MD

“Wow! You have a tough job!” is often the comment I hear whenever I introduce myself as an addiction psychiatrist who works with adolescents. That comment is usually followed by questions on how I try to help the drug-using adolescents and their families and resources that I recommend.

When I take a moment to reflect on those comments and questions, I am reminded of the fact that the ones who have the toughest jobs are the adolescents in recovery and their families. They deserve all the support they can get from our system, and here are three resources that I frequently recommend to adolescents and their families:

  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – Facts for Families
    The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) publishes and periodically updates a series of information for families on a wide range of topics pertaining to adolescents and their mental health.  Topics include adolescent development, common problems confronted by adolescents (e.g., substance use, sexual health, bullying), mental disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety), and ways of understanding and accessing prevention/treatment resources (e.g., psychotherapy, finding a provider).  This is a great initial resource for families to learn more about normal adolescent development and develop awareness of common problems confronting adolescents. It’s also a great resource for families to learn more about mental health problems and treatments.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
    The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website contains the latest information on specific illicit substances and has sections dedicated to parents and teenagers.  The research findings presented tend to be of high quality and have been subjected to expert reviews.  Parents and teens can learn many important facts about drugs to help them engage in an informed dialogue and the NIDA for Teens website provides additional resources for parents and teens who want more in-depth information.  The Ask Dr. NIDA section has answers to questions frequently asked by parents and teens and offer parents and teens the opportunity to ask NIDA experts more specific questions.
  • Science And Management of Addictions (SAMA) Foundation
    The SAMA Foundation was founded by parents of a teen who struggled with substance abuse.  SAMA has a strong focus on helping young people and their families find the resources they need to overcome the disease of substance addiction and offers recovery support services for parents and teens in Washington state.  The Family Navigator Service is also very helpful for families who need assistance in finding the best treatment option.

There are many other helpful resources out there for families and adolescents in need, and families should always contact their local professionals for assistance as early as possible to make sure they are getting all of the help they can get because they have the toughest jobs in the world!