By Matt Gonzalez
Teen Drug Abuse
Teens today grapple with a variety of problems. In response, many of them turn to drugs as their outlet.
Teen drug use has spiked in recent years. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- In 2014, more than 27 percent of high school students used illicit drugs
- More than 36 percent of 12th-graders reported using marijuana, nearly six percent of whom reported daily marijuana use
- Nearly 44 percent of 12th-graders reported drinking alcohol in the past month
- Nearly 5 percent of high school seniors reported using Vicodin, a prescription painkiller
Drug use can be especially problematic for young people. Substance abuse can stunt their brain development and lead to academic problems, drug dependence or serious health ailments.
A number of factors lead to teen drug abuse. They may have a family history of substance abuse, which increases the likelihood he or she picks up an addiction. They may have been socially rejected. They may be suffering from depression or low self-esteem.
Whatever the reason, teens who use drugs or alcohol need assistance. Much of this support comes from parents.
Ways to Help
Talking to your teen about drugs is an important step for any parent. When doing so, be sure to consider the following:
Find a Quiet Setting
The conversation should take place in a comfortable environment, with as few distractions as possible. This limits interruptions, which will helps your teen focus.
Listen to Your Child
Listen carefully to what your child has to say and encourage honesty. Watch their body language as they talk about certain subjects and avoid lecturing.
Ask Them About Media Messages
Media outlets glamorize and promote substance abuse. Talk to your child about these messages and find out if he or she is influenced by them. This could help you create a set of rules or guidelines for your home.
Discuss Peer Pressure and the Benefits of Saying No
If your teen is influenced by peer pressure, brainstorm with them ways to say “no.” There are a variety of reasons not to do drugs. Talk to your teen about these benefits without using scare tactics.
Other Strategies to Consider
Kids are human. They have their own personalities and likes and dislikes. Treat your child like an individual, but be clear that you are the parent and you are in charge.
Lay down ground rules, such as a curfew or places to avoid. Your child may not like these new rules, but they may prevent him or her from engaging in substance abuse.
Keep an Eye on Your Child
Is your child acting differently? Are they irritable? Do they have trouble concentrating? Monitor whether they exhibit any signs of drug use and take action when needed.
Know Their Friends
If their friends use drugs, your teen may fall into the same bad habits. Monitor who they hang out with and their behaviors around these friends.
Offering praise or encouragement can help establish a strong relationship between you and your teen. This communication could boost their self-esteem and prevent them from substance abuse.
Set an Example
Children learn a lot from their parents’ actions. Set an example by avoiding drug use yourself. The less they are around drugs or alcohol, the less likely they are to use.
Treatment is essential for teens with addictions. Luckily, there are a number of rehabilitation centers, some of which cater specifically to teens.
Parents constantly worry about their children. If drugs enter the equation, this anxiety increases. It is important to have an open dialogue with your child about drugs, especially if you suspect they are using illicit substances.
Open communication and support could prevent them from fighting a lifelong battle.
Bio: Matt Gonzales is a writer and researcher for DrugRehab.com. He boasts several years of experience writing for a daily publication, multiple weekly journals, a quarterly magazine and various online platforms. He has a bachelor’s degree in communication, with a Journalism concentration, from East Carolina University.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014, December). DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends
Mayo Clinic. (2016, February 2). Teen drug abuse: Help your teen avoid drugs. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-drug-abuse/art-20045921
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