Staff Report

CenteropinteDonConcerns about teenage drug and alcohol use vary.  From thinking the experience is a normal rite of passage to assuming that a son or daughter is addicted and just a few steps away from jail or the emergency room, parents often are lost when it comes to knowing what to do.

For most kids the truth is somewhere in between these two extremes, but the risks are real.

Donald Cleveland of CenterPointe Recovery and Counseling is a Florida Certified Addictions Professional who has a Bachelor’s in psychology and a Master’s in Clinical Health Counseling.

Specializing in substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, and family counseling for teens and young adults he said, “The adolescent brain’s development during the teen years is almost as active as an infant’s first years of life and just as important. Research shows that most addiction problems in adulthood began during adolescence. Prolonged drug use during these critical years arrests the brain’s development and can leave the person’s coping skills stunted at whatever age serious drug use began.”

Here are several signs that can clue individuals in that a teen is in need of help. These include a lack of consistency, out of control behavior, a change in peers and carelessness.

Teens often take great risks to keep using the substance while neglecting major life responsibilities.  As they reach a driving age the matter becomes more complicated.  When they start driving the family car this exposes the entire family financially as well as anyone else involved to harm.

Cleveland said, “If you have concerns, don’t ignore it.  Get help now.”

When looking for a professional counselor to evaluate a teen, it’s best to look for someone who is a certified addictions professional (CAP) and has at least a Masters degree.  If a teen is very resistant to see a professional, it is very beneficial for parents to work first with the counselor who can coach them on how to raise a child’s motivation.

Gene Cowherd, LMHC, CAP is the owner of CenterPointe Recovery and Counseling. Most major insurance is accepted. The office is located at 405 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Brandon. The hours are Monday-Thursdays from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

For more information, call 262-0471 or visit

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