Concerned About the Rise of Teen Drug Use?
6 Strategies to Keep Your Kid Sober this Summer.
As temperatures begin to rise, so do the rates of teenage drug use. While this is unsettling as a parent, it’s reassuring to know there are many things you can do to encourage sobriety for your teenage kids. Every year, it seems as though combining too much free time with a sense of freedom leads children to experiment with drugs for the first time or to fall back into old habits. Being aware of the reasons why your teen might be tempted to do drugs is the first step toward taking action to prevent drug use and protect their health and safety.
1: IDENTIFY POTENTIAL RISK FACTORS
Boredom is an obvious reason why some kids may find using drugs appealing during the summer. Yet, there are also more subtle underlying causes of drug abuse. For instance, summertime is when social media accounts begin to heat up, and your teen may try drugs to lose weight and look better in that bikini “selfie” they want to post. Alternatively, your teenager may start a new job and turn to using drugs to try to manage their stress. Spend some time thinking about your teenager’s personality and current attitude about life to find potential issues that might arise this summer. Having an idea of what could lead to them using drugs gives you a starting point for developing a strong support network to keep them sober.
2: TALK DIRECTLY TO YOUR TEEN ABOUT THE DANGERS OF DRUG USE
You might think you have talked to your teenager about the dangers of drugs, but one conversation is never enough. It is also important to avoid using scare tactics your teen may find unrealistic. Since teenagers tend to view themselves as invincible, simply warning them that they might die is not always enough of a deterrent. Consider showing them pictures of the long-term effects hard drugs can have on their appearance, or discuss what limitations a criminal record will place on their future. In addition to discussing the consequences, make time each day to hear your child’s concerns. Listening as they describe a mean post that was placed on social media or a problem they are having at their summer job could clue you in to a stress overload. Talking about safe ways to handle their stress gives your teen alternatives and tools for avoiding drug use.
3: WATCH FOR SIGNS OF EXPERIMENTATION AND ADDICTION
Teenagers are quite adept at hiding their drug habits and their friends are always quick to give tips to help disguise their use. However, you can still notice signs of drug use such as secretive behavior or changes in their normal personality. For example, you should worry if your usually laid-back teen suddenly becomes combative without an obvious reason. Physical evidence can also be found such as a strange scent on your teen’s clothing or the smell of alcohol on their breath. Some teens may try to cover up these smells with larger amounts of cologne or perfume. You might also notice money from their summer job unaccounted for or find drug paraphernalia in their room. If you do notice signs of drug use, you should never hesitate to discuss the issue. Dealing with drug abuse early could prevent your teen from developing a full-blown addiction or relapsing if they’ve already been through treatment in the past.
“Teenagers tend to view themselves
4: ENCOURAGE WHOLESOME ACTIVITIES
Teens sometimes need help finding healthy ways to spend their time, and they may attempt using drugs just to feed their natural need for thrills. Ignore your kid’s sighs when you tell them it’s time to find better ways to spend their time than sitting in their room or hanging out with friends with no real purpose in mind. Before summer begins, sit down with your child and brainstorm activities they can pursue over the next several months that fit their interests. From volunteering, mountain-biking, fishing, horseback-riding lessons to hiking through the wilderness, getting your kid involved in healthy activities keeps them so busy they have no time for drugs. In addition to major physical pursuits, brainstorm a few things your teen can do during their downtime such as reading, playing pool in a game room or journaling about their day. Living a sober life is possible and can be fun! Show your teen various activities, sports, and games that can excite and inspire them.
5: GET TO KNOW YOUR TEEN’S FRIENDS
Your teenager’s desire for independence may have them trying to squeeze their friends by you with only the slightest greeting. While you don’t have to jump into all their conversations, it’s important to know who your teen spends their time with during the summer. Make sure your home has an inviting atmosphere and encourage your teen to introduce you to their friends. Pay attention to your child and their friend’s conversations and interests as they hang out in the house. Gaining awareness of who your teen prefers to spend time with also helps you steer them toward companions that prioritize sobriety.
“Know who your teen spends time with
during the summer.”
6: ESTABLISH A PLAN FOR HANDLING DRUG ABUSE
While the previous strategies go a long way toward making sure the rise in teen drug use in the summer doesn’t hit your home, it’s still important to have a contingency plan. At the first sign of drug use, talk to your child and have them tested for illicit substances. If you do find out for sure they are using drugs, know how to get treatment and counseling that helps them find recovery and avoid relapse.
The summer months are a time when you have to be vigilant as a parent and the teen years are no time to start relaxing on your rules. Take the time to notice what your teen is doing this summer and support their sobriety by encouraging healthy activities with sober-minded friends. This way, your teen can still have the summer of their dreams without falling prey to the dangers of addiction.
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