How to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Teens
In early adolescence, when a child advances from elementary through middle school, they face so many new and challenging social and academic situations. During this time, children are more than likely exposed to many types of substance abuse such as cigarettes and alcohol for the first time. By the time they enter high school, teens have encountered even more types of abuse such as drug use and social activities where drugs are used. During times of transition such as changing schools, moving, and even divorce, the risk of drug abuse increases. As a parent, it is very important to be open minded and available to talk to your children about the topics of drug and alcohol abuse and how to avoid it. Did you know that according to national drug use surveys done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse some children are already abusing drugs by age 12 or 13? It is so important to work with your child on preventing drug and alcohol abuse.
Some helpful advice when talking to your teens
Communication- Whenever you see an opportunity to discuss the risks of drinking and driving or the dangers of using drugs, take it! Be open to a conversation on the topic.
Converse, Don’t confront- If you even suspect that your teen is using drugs, have a conversation with them, talk to them, don’t confront them. Don’t judge them, talk to them openly about the facts of how dangerous substance abuse is. If your teen doesn’t open up to you or you are not comfortable, seek out the assistance of an adolescent therapist that could help.
Don’t be a parent in denial-Unfortunately there is no teenager that is immune to drug abuse. It doesn’t matter how smart they are, how athletic they are or how popular, they are all at risk for peer pressure.
Be aware of certain slang terms- Be aware of some of the terminology used for some of the drug lingo. Weed, Pot, Ganja, Mary Jane, Grass, Chronic, Buds, Blunt, Hootch, Jive stick, Ace, Spliff, Skunk, Smoke, Dubie, Flower, Zig Zag are all slang for marijuana.
Body language. Always be aware of changes in your teen’s behavior. Have they changed friends’ a lot, have they altered their physical appearance? Do you notice a lack of hygiene, eating or sleeping patterns changes, hostile or uncooperative attitudes? These could be warning signs- talk to your teen.
Access to alcohol- Most teens will tell you the easiest place to get alcohol is right in their own home, be sure it is not easily accessible for them. Talk to them about the risks of drinking, especially if they are driving.
Lead by example-What parents don’t realize is that you are the leading role model for your teenager. What message are you sending them with your own behaviors? Be sure to realize they are watching you as well.
Always remember that you are the parent, be open and willing to talk about anything with them no matter how difficult the topic is. In the long run, your child will benefit from a parent who is concerned but willing to discuss serious situations. Prevention is key when trying to avoid drug and alcohol abuse in teens.