“What is the difference between experimentation and a real problem with substance abuse?” This is a question parents, teens, and professionals often ask.  Our answer at Pine River is that it is about Quality of Life.  It is easy to get into a debate about whether drugs and alcohol are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, about where, when, how much, and for whom drugs and alcohol are okay.   But the real question when trying to decide if a teen has a substance abuse problem is how the substance use is affecting all aspects of the teen’s life: family relationships, mood, physical health, school performance, peer group, etc. Taking an honest inventory of these things can help to see the situation more clearly. Dr. Oscar Buckstein talks briefly about this for the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.  You can watch this as well as other related interviews here: http://www.aacap.org/cs/expert_interviews/substance_abuse