Understanding Drug Abuse and Teens

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Understanding drug abuse and teens may be difficult for parents and loved ones. Almost every teen in America will come in contact with drugs and alcohol as a young adult and while some may be able to say no, others will try to experiment. According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 7.2 percent of 8th graders, 17.6 percent of 10th graders, and 22.6 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the past month. Knowing what to do, and how to talk to your teen, before they experiment can help you and your child navigate the challenges they will face.

Talking About Drug Abuse and Teens

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, the main reason that kids don’t use drugs and alcohol is because of their parents. Positive parental influence builds strong relationships based on trust, understanding and honesty. The earlier parents and loved ones sit down to discuss drug abuse and teens, the more likely the teen is to choose not to use.
Parents and loved ones should try to keep the lines of communication open with their teen. Discussing topics like sex, drugs and alcohol can be uncomfortable for both parents and teens, but open up the floor to these topics will help your teen feel more comfortable in the long run. Listen carefully to what they are saying and even more carefully to your response. Aim to be non-judgmental and factual in what you say. Educate yourself on the most common drugs and their effect on the body so you can answer any questions your teen has. Don’t try to have “the big talk”, instead bring up drug abuse and teens casually, but frequently. Ask your teen what they think about addiction and what they’ve seen in their own life.
If your teen has already experimented with drugs and alcohol or knows others that have, have an open discussion about your expectations and consequences. The best message you can give your teen is that there are limits and consequences, but that no matter what you are a source of help, support and love.

Facing Drug Abuse and Teens

Sometimes a teen has gone past experimentation with drugs and alcohol and may already be suffering from drug abuse or addiction. Drug abuse and teens can be hard to confront, especially for parents and loved ones who may be caught off guard or are unprepared. Ignoring the situation will only make it worse, and drug abuse may be a cry for help. Parents and loved ones can help a teen recognize the situation and get help so they can have a bright and productive future.
There are teen specific programs available across the country to help teenagers deal with the substance abuse and the underlying causes. While being a teenager can be difficult, substance abuse centers can help teens to learn healthy coping mechanisms and ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Some teens may also suffer from depression or other mental illness alongside the substance abuse so it is important for parents and caretakers to find a rehab center that regularly handles drug abuse and teens.