Addiction: What is my teen thinking?

Addiction: What is my teen thinking?To a sober outsider, the thought processes of a drug addict appear to be devoid of logic and reason. Why do they continue to choose drugs and alcohol over family, friends, happiness and health? Addicts appear to forego any sense of normalcy in their lives, seemingly for the sole purpose of getting high or drunk. Lies, crime, manipulation and argument are constant themes. Adolescents especially reason their substance abuse due to the work of famous authors, musicians and celebrities who used drugs. Socialization, productivity, weight loss- there’s always a reason ‘why’ for an addicted teen to keep using.

Understanding why our adolescent’s mind seems to be transplanted from another planet, we have to examine the neuro-biological process of addiction. Drugs and alcohol change core functionings of the brain, from cognitive function to emotional regulation. The very parts of the brain which decipher rational thinking from irrational thinking are damaged from substance abuse. As all the “normal” thought process are weakened, cravings are strengthened. Not only are they suffering from weakened decision making, their brains are only making one decision. Cravings are overpowering psychological and physiological sensations- affecting mind and body. Everything within your addicted adolescent’s being is demanding more drugs and alcohol. Consequently, they go to unthinkable depths to satisfy their cravings.

The changes in an addict’s thought processes can continue to have effect long after detox and treatment. Recovering from addiction is a lifelong process of learning. The key to long-term and genuine sobriety is for an adolescent with addiction to work on reprogramming the brain. Building new patterns of behavior and learning how to live life in new ways is a critical part of this process. From grocery shopping to time management, communication to meditation- everything is learned anew. 12-step recovery programs offer a spiritual foundation as new manners of living.

Old ways of thinking rarely see success in sobriety. Teens may not use any drugs or alcohol, but their behaviors are still driven by common forces during their years of using.


Sustain Recovery Services in Orange County, California offers a unique after care program for teens and adolescents seeking long term sobriety. Call us at 949-407-9052 for further assistance helping your family heal from addiction and alcoholism.