Peer pressure and “fitting in” are two of the top reasons many adolescents make the choice to experiment with drugs. Drug abuse among teens is a problem in communities and homes. In a recent study, 35% of high school seniors said that they had consumed alcohol in the previous month while 21% had smoked marijuana and 11% had smoked cigarettes. Half of high school seniors reported that they had used an illegal drug at least one time. The use of smokeless tobacco is also on the rise among teens. The list goes on. How can you help encourage your child to not become part of these statistics? And if your teen has been through rehab for substance abuse, how can you implement proven coping skills for addicts to help them avoid relapse?
Communicate With and Teach Your Children
Keep the lines of communication open with your children by regularly engaging in conversation with them. When it comes to more difficult topics, take time to plan what you want to say to them before approaching the subject. Talk to them about drugs. Tell them why they shouldn’t use them and the risks that drug use poses to the developing brain. Teach them how to choose good friends since peer pressure can be a contributing factor to drug use. Explain to them that they can turn alcohol and drugs down and give them some examples. Don’t lecture them. Look for teachable moments and repeat them. If your teen has already experimented with substance use or alcohol and has been through therapy, familial support and communication have proven to be among the most reliable coping skills for addicts. And multiple studies have shown that kids whose parents talk to them about drug and alcohol abuse are significantly less likely to use.
Establish Rules and Stick to Them
Tell your children why it is not OK to do drugs or drink. Explain to them that there will be consequences. Choose rules like curfew times, where they may go, how they will be punished if they break the rules and be consistent. Teens with lenient parents are more likely to use drugs than those who have strict parents. You don’t have to be rigid, but be firm. Don’t wait to approach the topic when your child is in trouble. Discuss it during a calm time.
Kids are less likely to use drugs when they have actively involved parents. Listen to your children when they come to you. Know what they are doing. Get to know their friends (don’t just know who they are). If your child is at risk of relapse, make your child’s sobriety a priority over other responsibilities.
It is also imperative that you are aware of what your teen is up against. Learn about the most popular drugs that are currently on the market. Research what the signs of drug use are.
Make Use of Outside Resources
Look for literature to help inform your child about the risks of alcohol and substance use. Show her what it will do to her body, her social life and her future. Talk to your family doctor about discussing the pressures she may face at school. If your child has already struggled with substance use, seek help from professionals, support groups, or a treatment program if necessary. Isolation is a common relapse trigger for many people. It might be beneficial for your teen to spend time around others who can offer him coping skills for addicts that you aren’t aware of. By showing continued support and concern, you can be one of the greatest tools in your adolescent’s life in his battle against drugs. Resources: University of Michigan Health System: Teen and Alcohol Drug Abuse: http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tp17749 Mayo Clinic: Teen Drug Abuse: Help Your Teen Avoid Drugs: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-drug-abuse/art-20045921