For every generation, adolescence has been a time of emotional turmoil as teenagers try to figure out their emerging place in the world. If your child suffers with dual diagnosis, this additional struggle can become nearly unbearable. Understanding some of the issues they’re facing can help you give them the support they need.

With dual diagnosis, teens present a mental disorder along with a substance addiction. Current studies show that more than 50 percent of teens who abuse alcohol and drugs have a co-existing mental illness. While either condition may lead to the other, adolescents generally tend to begin with a mental disorder that leads to an addiction when they attempt self-medication.

A teenager suffering from anxiety, ADHD or depression may find it painful to cope with social interaction, peer pressure and family expectations. Suddenly, they discover that when they take a drink or use cocaine their mood lifts. It’s a false sense of security, though, because when the substance wears off they find that nothing has changed. A cycle of abuse then begins as they escalate their use trying to recapture that initial feeling.

Children are often able to cope with a mental disorder until they reach high school. During grade school they’re usually in a more sheltered environment, spending time in the same class with the same kids. Once they move to high school they’re thrust into a new environment where peer pressure is strong. With college entrance impending, they’re also faced with increased academic expectations and stronger competition from other students.

Unlike adults who are responsible for themselves, teens find it difficult to reach out for help. The situation is also complicated because parents don’t recognize that their child has a problem. They will often attribute the teen’s erratic behavior to the usual adolescent changes.

If you’re supporting a child coping with dual diagnosis, Transitions Recovery provides a caring, personalized course of treatment that includes assistance for the whole family. Call 800-298-1783 to have your questions answered by our knowledgeable caretakers.