The following are various tips for parents and information regarding drug and alcohol use and abuse among teenagers.
Why do teenagers use alcohol and drugs? Drugs and alcohol make them feel good, the substances are accessible, even found in your medicine cabinet, and they may be purchased or obtained from a friend.
Peer pressure, high impulsivity and role models who drink or use are influential. Your kids don’t necessarily associate consequences with alcohol or drug use unless you talk honestly with them about the subject.
The earlier teens use alcohol, tobacco or other substances, the more likely they are to become addicted to them in adulthood.
Parents don’t realize the influence they have in whether their adolescent child uses drugs. The facts are:
- Kids who learn from their parents or caregivers about the risk of alcohol or drugs are 36 percent less likely to use marijuana than kids who don’t, 50 percent less likely to use inhalants, 56 percent less likely to use cocaine and 65 percent less likely to use LSD.
Get involved! According to Barry R. McCaffrey, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy, there are some effective ways to do this:
- Establish regular together times.
- Ask where your kids are going, who they will be with and what they will be doing. Know who your kids’ friends are.
- Try to be there when your child gets home from school, since the danger zone is between 4-6 p.m..
- Share meals together as often as possible. Studies show that kids whose families eat together at least five times per week are less likely to be involved with drugs and alcohol.
What are some of the drugs teens are using?
- Marijuana (stronger generally than it was 20 years ago and might have other substances in it)
- Prescription drugs (stimulants, painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin, tranquilizers, sedatives)
- Heroin (coming back, and the purity of the drug has created nightmare scenario for overdose)
Where are teens getting the drugs?
Look in your medicine cabinet. Get rid of all outdated or unused drugs. Kids are getting drugs from their friends and online. Marijuana is widely available, and illegal drugs make their way into schools.
What are the risk factors of adolescents and teens becoming addicted?
- Adolescent brains are not fully developed, so they cannot shut off the pleasure-seeking mechanism as efficiently as adult brains.
- If adults drink alcohol regularly, smoke or use drugs, availability and role modeling are both risks.
- Children who have emotional or mental disorders such as depression or anxiety, anger and tantrum issues, ADD or ADHD are at greater risk of abusing alcohol or drugs.
- Students who have learning disabilities or untreated vision disorders are at risk for substance use disorder.
- Peer pressure is powerful.
It is okay to set rules that are firm yet respectful of your child as a person. These rules are not just made up on the fly and changed spontaneously: Kids need to know what is expected of them.
- There should be reasonable consequences of breaking rules. Set a curfew and enforce it.
- Kids need to check in at regular times, and you have a right to know where your children are.
- If your child is attending a party, it is okay to check in with the parents.
- Review with your children how they can be comfortable leaving a party where drugs are being used, and discuss that plan in advance.
- If your gut instinct is that something is amiss, check it out.
Parents are role models: walk the talk
- If you want your child to be open, honest and compassionate, be that person yourself.
- If you take drugs or abuse alcohol, it is a signal to your children that taking drugs is okay. You may need to seek professional help.
More resources for alcohol and drug information:
For printed or Audio/Visual materials, call the National Clearing House for Alcohol and Drug Information at (800) 788-2800.
For a free copy of Growing Up Drug-Fee: A Parent’s Guide to Prevention, call the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program at (877) 4EDPUBS, or (800) 788-2800, or visit www.theantidrug.com, aol keyword: drug help (the Anti-Drug Office of National Drug Policy).