The Addicted Child

A Parent's Guide to Adolescent Substance Abuse

If your child uses alcohol or drugs, you know how it affects your family. These substances enter your child’s brain and change their behavior. You want to help your child, but where do you begin? The Addicted Child is your roadmap.

Learn what makes adolescent addiction different. How drugs can change your child’s brain and behaviors. The assessments and tests you should insist upon. And more.


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 There are no resources to easily understand what help is available and how to access it….until now. Mr. Capriola’s book and workbook make the problem of substance use disorders understandable in plain language. I strongly recommend this book and the accompanying workbook to anyone close to adolescents (or adults) who struggle with substance/process disorders.”

Cory Walker, DO Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine.
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of experience on the frontlines of substance use treatment. He provides a valuable resource to all parents attempting to find their bearings in the often confusing and frightening world of intertwined adolescent psychological and substance use problems.”

Major R. Bradshaw, Ph.D  Department of Psychiatry, Houston Methodist Hospital
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The Addicted Child helps parents understand how alcohol and drugs influence their child’s behavior, offers resources to help parents find effective treatment options, and explains which assessments are important for a diagnosis.”

Jamison Monroe, Founder and Chairman of Newport Healthcare
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through the examination of neuroscience, genetics, the epidemiology of addiction, and an emphasis on culturally appropriate treatment. The reader is offered a comprehensive review of the commonly used substances, which is written in a manner that is easy to understand.”

John J. O’Neill, EdD, Clinical Director, The Menninger Clinic


This book could change so many lives

The Addicted Child by Richard Capriola is a book that can truly hit so close to home that it hurts. For anyone who has experienced the different aspects that come along with someone younger dealing with addiction, this can be a painful but informative and true read. When I was much younger, my older brother (around 17 at the time) began drinking heavily and using different things. Everyone thought he was just acting out in some way. Come to find out, he was trying to cope with the symptoms of Schizophrenia he was beginning to deal with that no one knew anything about until the day he was drunk enough to wrap his car around a tree and end up in the hospital.



He was never the same again, and had the sign been seen the way this book describes, things could have turned out very differently and I would still have my big brother around. Richard Capriola backs up what he is writing with facts that while being hard to read at times, should be required reading for children in the times that we live in. There are so many different things a parent or a loved one can miss when it comes to children who are addicted. There are also so many more ways that we can help should we see this occurring. Having children of my own who are quickly approaching the age where they are exposed to more and more things,




this book is one I am going to keep close by. I hope I wont need it after this one read, but if I do it’s here.  



“The Addicted Child, by Richard Capriola, is the book that could save your child’s life. A parent or helping professional will have this book as a trusted reference at their fingertips; and the book’s brevity will help searchers find information quickly. The Addicted Child is the first key parents will want to use to unlock the mystery of substance addiction.”


“The book hooks you right from the acknowledgment. The author tells a poignant story describing why he decided to write this book and goes on to share stories of parents who were surprised by underlying mental illnesses. This personal touch gives the book a human quality that puts the rest of the information into perspective. Any parent would benefit from this book.”


“Author Richard Capriola delivers a comprehensive dive into the perils of substance abuse in young people in The Addicted Child. Compassionate, insightful, and well-researched, this is an invaluable guide for parents navigating the waters of their child’s potentially dangerous behavior. The book is intuitively structured, peppered with additional resources, and written in simple, accessible language. This is a timely and potentially life saving red for all parents.”


“Looking beyond the common misconceptions and judgments related to addiction, particularly in young people, author Richard Capriola offers an easy-to-understand and comforting guide with The Addicted Child. Knowing more ways to help your child, and about the professionals involved in the process, make this book critically important to parents who feel lost in such a crisis.”


“Rick has written an invaluable tool for parents. The Addicted Child helps parents understand how alcohol and drugs influence their child’s behavior, offers resources to help parents find effective treatment options, and explains which assessments are important for a diagnosis and the professionals that should be involved in making those assessments.”

Jamison Monroe, Founder and Chairman of Newport Healthcare

“Capriola takes an insightful look at substance abuse in adolescents and its treatment. Capriola explores modules for affected parents, including tips on assessing your child, various types of available treatment plans, and evidence-based approaches to treating adolescent substance abuse disorders. The affected parents and educators will greatly appreciate this comprehensive yet accessible work.”


 Capriola’s book is essentially a complete handbook for parents on how to deal with issues of drug use and addiction in teenagers. While compact, the book provides a thorough introduction to all aspects of addiction and provides a great deal of guidance in an accessible, clear, step-by-step manner. The Addicted Child could serve as a resource for any parent, but Dr. Capriola is explicitly targeting parents who lack the financial wherewithal to ship off their troubled teenagers to a high-end treatment clinic.

Written in such a way as to be accessible and comprehensible even to a complete novice on the subject, the book goes through the issue of addiction in a systematic manner. From explaining what certain drugs are and their effects to explaining the crucial differences between how adult and adolescent brains adapt to chemicals, Dr. Capriola is surprisingly thorough. For parents and guardians who know that something is wrong with their child, but don’t quite know what, Capriola has included some helpful breakdowns by age, gender, race, and class so that parents are aware of likely sources of danger.



Far from being merely a dry discussion of how to detect drug use, Dr. Capriola works to make sure that parents understand why teenagers sometimes turn to drugs and how they can alter their own behavior in order to make it less likely that their kids will suffer from addiction. One of the most praiseworthy aspects of the book is that Dr. Capriola frames his concern in terms of health and well-being rather than taking a moralizing tone. The book states dangers in an unadorned and unexaggerated fashion, pointing out for instance that not all drug use results in addiction. The consistent emphasis on how drug use impacts adolescent brain development in a negative way makes a compelling case for precisely why teenagers should not be taking mind-altering substances. Using the tips that Dr. Capriola lays out, parents and guardians should be far better equipped to detect, stop, and treat teenage drug use and other self-destructive behaviors.

- H.J. Armstrong

This book deals greatly with adolescent substance abuse. It comes from a professional and clinical standpoint, and helps the reader to look beyond the usual thoughts and feelings someone might have about addiction. It can help the reader understand their family members addiction or battle. All the while acknowledging the truth about the struggle. “When you look beyond your child’s drinking or drug use, you may discover their struggle to manage intolerable thoughts, feelings, or memories is a core issue that requires treatment.”

As someone with an alcoholic brother this book was a very interesting read. He’s an adult now, but we grew up together, and I found myself thinking back to when he was a kid, and recalling some of the incidents that may have contributed to his addiction. This book helped me to gain some understanding, and to put some things in perspective, that I would not have otherwise been able to do.

Much of the book is a breakdown of different substances and their effects on people who abuse them. Some I found more interesting than others, but that probably depends on personal experience. I particularly liked chapter 2: The Brain On Drugs.

All together this was a fantastic read. The author did a great job researching and compiling information, and presenting it in a way that the reader can understand, and ultimately gain some insight and hope.

-Paul Anderson

Read The Introduction


While not every child using substances has an underlying psychological issue, for those that do, treating thealcohol or drug problem without treating the mental health issue behind it can be a treatment plan doomed to fail.

When you look beyond your child’s drinking or drug use, you may discover their struggle to manage intolerable thoughts, feelings, or memories is a core issue that requires treatment.However, you’re probably not equipped with the resources, training, or education to adequately do so. Therefore,it’s important that you insist on a comprehensive psychological and medical assessment before starting any treatment.

If you’ve been down this road, you might have already taken this step. Hearing the results of your child’s psychological assessment and diagnoses can be more difficult than hearing the details of their substance use. No parent wants to hear that their child is “broken.” You probably knew something about their alcohol or drug use, but the psychological findings can be shocking. Shattering. Confusing. Frightening.

I have sat in hundreds of diagnostic conferences when parents heard for the first time that their child has severe anxiety, major depression, or suffers from an emerging personality disorder or schizophrenia. Hearing these diagnoses is heartbreaking because parents usually see the substance abuse while completely unaware of the underlying mental health issues.

Your child may be creative at flying under the radar and discreetly hiding their substance use. The most frequent reactionI heard from parents was, “I had no idea this was going on!” Or if they suspected their child was using a substance, they were shocked at how extensive it was. Sometimes it was weekly use. Often it was daily.

There are important differences between adult and adolescent substance use disorders. Unlike the adult brain, your child’s brain is a work in process and reaches maturity in their mid-twenties. Thus, introducing alcohol or drugs into their maturing brain puts your child at risk of developing a substance use disorder.

The consequences of substance use are another difference. Adults abusing substances often experience catastrophic consequences, such as losing a job or relationship. Many have been incarcerated. Adolescents, on the other hand, experience few consequences other than the threat of punishment from their parents, which often reinforces their substance use as a form of rebellion.

Discovering your child has a substance abuse problem is not a death sentence. It doesn’t have to be the fate of your child. In fact, information truly is power when battling addiction. So we begin our journey with a summary of adolescent substance use. Much of the information in Chapter One and other chapters is borrowed from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future studyiand other sources, as noted. Each year Monitoring the Future surveys students in eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades and reports their use of alcohol and drugs and their opinions on those substances.

Chapter Two explains the neuroscience of substance abuse. Alcohol and drugs have the power to change your child’s brain. The chemicals also influence behaviors you probably find unacceptable. This chapter explains how substances work within your child’s brain.

Chapter Three describes how psychiatrists, addictions counselors, psychologists, and social workers assess your child. The best treatment starts with a comprehensive assessment, and in this chapter you’ll be led through the assessment process.

Chapter Four through Chapter Twelve briefly summarize alcohol and the street drugs used by today’s adolescents. You may be unaware of many drugs invading our communities, but these chapters give an overview of them.

Chapter Thirteen explains process disorders like eating behaviors and self-harm. These sometimes accompany alcohol and drug use and can also trap a child who is not using substances. If your child develops a substance use disorder along with a process disorder, it’s important that both be assessed and treated.

Chapter Fourteen and Chapter Fifteen describe principles for adolescent substance abuse treatment and treatment options.

Chapter Sixteen identifies evidence-based approaches to treatment. Recovery resources are also provided to help guide you and your child toward healing.

Chapter Seventeen lists resources including references to educational consultants, mental health and substance abuse resources, and information on support groups. Not only does your child need support, but parents do too. It’s a difficult road that no parent should have to walk alone. This book’s goal is to equip you with what you need to help not only the child you love, but also yourself as you navigate it.

The Addicted Child

The Workbook

The workbook is the companion to The Addicted Child. Its exercises guide you through a deeper understanding of your child's substance abuse and its impact on your life. Tips to cope with anxiety and connecting with your child are also offered.