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What To Do When You Are In Trouble

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What To Do When You Are In Trouble

Adults spend an awful lot of time telling teens how to stay out of trouble. We tell you not to use drugs, not to drink and drive, don’t have sex, and on and on. What we fail to do most of the time, is tell you what to do if you really do find yourself in trouble. What do you do if you if you’re using drugs and alcohol and need help stopping? What do you do if you think have a STD or are pregnant?

Assume for a moment that the reason why adults are so preachy about this stuff is because we actually care about you. We care about you, our own child, and we care about kids in general, like friends and classmates. We don’t want anything bad to happen to you. So, if you can assume that we care, then it would seem logical that if something bad happened to you we would want to be there for you and help in any way we can. This does not mean we will not be upset. As a matter of fact, we probably will be. But you might be surprised at how a parent can step up and be calm and rational when their child is in trouble.

All that being said, the very best thing you can do, if you find yourself in one of the situations described above, is to be honest and tell your parents. Most of the time, your fear and anticipation of their response is much worse than how they actually will respond. Even if they are initially shocked and angry, they usually end up in problem-solving mode pretty quickly. If, however, you don’t feel safe talking to your parents about a problem, there are other options. Here are some of the things you can do if you’re in trouble.

  1. Do you have a best friend? Are you close with his or her parents? Might they be able to help you out or talk to your parents for you? Sometimes parents do better hearing the information from another adult. They stay calmer and more focused on helping you find a solution.
  2. Is there a trusted adult at school you can talk to? Whether it’s a teacher, a counselor or a coach, any adult ought to be able to advise and help you. Even if this ultimately means you tell your parents, you might feel better having the support of another adult.
  3. Talk to your minister, priest or rabbi, if you have one. They are quite good at advising and helping people out of very difficult situations.
  4. While typically you need parental consent for treatment, most states allow minors access to treatment without parental consent for the following:
  • Life threatening situations
  • Diagnosis and treatment of STDs
  • Treatment of a pregnancy
  • Drug or alcohol treatment
  • Mental health treatment
  1. Do not avoid getting treatment because you are too afraid to discuss with your parents. Many STDs can be cured easily with medication, but can cause permanent damage if not treated, such as infertility or chronic pain. They can be easily spread, and it is not okay to ignore your symptoms and potentially infect another person.
  2. Pregnancies require prenatal care. Don’t avoid going to the doctor and trying to hide a pregnancy from your parents. They will still find out, but you could be harming the baby by not seeking treatment.
  3. Drugs and alcohol can literally kill you. If it’s a choice between staying on a path towards self-destruction and possibly death or dealing with upset parents for a while, choose upsetting your parents. They’ll get over the fact that you have a drug or alcohol problem and need help. They will never get over it if you didn’t ask for help and then died.
  4. If you are pregnant, don’t rush into any major decisions. As difficult as it might be, you really need the support of your family now. While you can try to hide this from them, it’s unusual that they won’t find out, and you could really benefit from their support.

Somehow, if you got yourself into a mess like this, you believe you have reached a certain level of maturity in which you made the decisions that affected you in the first place. So, now is not the time to regress and act immature. Step up and be the mature individual you were trying to be when you chose to use drugs or alcohol or had unprotected sex. Talk to your parents or any adult you trust that can help you out. You can overcome this and still have a happy, healthy and productive life.

Lori Freson Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.
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