#158 – Episode 158 – The Addicted Child with Richard Capriola


Many parents in recovery worry about their children abusing drugs and alcohol. In this episode, Veronica interviews Richard Capriola about his book, The Addicted Child. Richard lays out an accessible and comprehensive method to help parents dealing with adolescent drug and alcohol abuse.

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about this episode

“Even the thought of having a child that might be using a substance can be a very frightening experience for parents.” – Richard Capriola

One of a parent’s greatest fears is that their children will end up with a substance use disorder.

That fear is amplified when you are in recovery yourself because we know exactly what it’s like.

At 14 I started drinking and using drugs. By 17 I was already in a bad place. I would never want my children to have those experiences.
For this episode, I’m joined by Richard Capriola, the author of The Addicted Child: A Parent’s Guide to Adolescent Substance Abuse.

Richard wrote The Addicted Child to give parents a concise resource they could read very quickly and walk away with a better understanding and feeling prepared to deal with whatever comes their way.

Richard’s goal is to empower parents with the information they need so they can not only be aware of the warning signs but also know how to proceed if they see these signs with their child or ultimately discover their child is using alcohol or drugs.

Today Richard shares an accessible and comprehensive method to help parents deal with adolescent drug and alcohol abuse.

Richard is an expert in this area and I was grateful to have this conversation with him. I think you’re really going to enjoy it.

About Richard Capriola

Richard Capriola has been a mental health and addictions counselor for over two decades. He has treated both adults and adolescents diagnosed with mental health and substance abuse issues. He recently retired from Menninger Clinic in Houston where he worked as an addictions counselor for over a decade. He is the author of The Addicted Child: A Parent’s Guide to Adolescent Substance Abuse.

key highlights

Nobody tells us what to look for

“I knew something was going on, but I didn’t know it was this bad.”

Most parents are shocked to hear their child receive a diagnosis of a substance use disorder. It’s not that they’re bad parents. The problem is that they missed the warning signs because they had no idea what to look for.


The warning signs

“Pay attention to the changes that you see in your child. You know your child better than anyone.”

Don’t assume that any changes you see are normal adolescent “acting out” behaviors. It might be, but it could also be an indicator that there’s something else going on under the surface.

Some common warning signs are grades starting to decline, becoming very quiet and reserved, having no interest in participating in activities they used to enjoy, and sudden secretiveness about who their friends are.

If these changes are short-term and only last a day or two, they might not be cause for concern. But if you see them lingering, it’s probably worth it to dig deeper.


Lead with curiosity

“Can you help me understand what’s going on with these behaviors?”

If you’ve identified warning signs that warrant a closer look, start by having a discussion with your child.

Approach them with an inquiring point of view and don’t accuse or threaten them. Let them know you’ve noticed this behavior and you’re curious about what’s going on.

It could go one of two ways: your child might open up and share some information or they may become argumentative and defensive. Either way, if you’re still concerned, the next step is to seek professional help.


The neuroscience approach

“A lot of children don’t respond very well to threats and intimidation. They tend to rebel against that.” – Richard Capriola

In his experience working with teenagers, Richard has found that talking to them about how their brain works, how substances interact with the brain, and the need to protect their brain really captures their attention.

He recommends that parents take the approach of first learning how alcohol works and how it can affect the body. From there, see if you can get an education discussion going with your child about how alcohol can affect their developing brain, the need to protect their brain, and some of the serious consequences that can occur as a result of binge drinking.

resources mentioned

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