This two part series provides a list of ways that parents can facilitate the avoidance of drug use in their teens. If you missed part one, that article provided an introduction and included the first six of fourteen ways that parents can help their teens curb substance abuse. The following completes that list:
7. Don’t be Judgmental: It’s one thing to be firm, to set boundaries, and to let your children know what you’re willing to accept. However, in communicating that with your teen, try not to be judgmental or to jump to conclusions. Do all you can to make your child feel comfortable so it can feel safe for your teen to come to when he or she needs it.
8. Consider Risk Factors: There are risk factors, behaviors that lead to other behaviors that teens engage in. For instance, just as obesity is a risk factor for diabetes. Smoking is a risk factor for substance abuse. Other factors that point to possible drug use is early aggressive or disruptive behaviors, depression, ADHD, and anxiety.
9. Don’t Confuse Intelligence With Maturity: There are many intellectually smart teenagers. However, that doesn’t mean that he or she has good judgment. The brain is still developing in teens, including the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the ability to reason and be logical. Teens still need their parents to help them make good decisions.
10. Lock Your Medicine Cabinet: Currently, prescription drug abuse is an epidemic sweeping the country. If there are prescription drugs in the house, lock them up and keep track of them. Sadly, most teens obtain the drugs not from drug dealers or the Internet but from friends and family. And if there is no longer a need for certain drugs, throw them away. Along these lines, another danger is inhalants. Items around them house, such as solvents and aerosols might also need to be locked for the safety of your children.
11. Consider Your Family History: It’s common for addiction to run in the family. Since the illness has a psychological component, there are emotional patterns that are passed down from one generation to another. If there is a history of addiction in the family, parents may want to adopt a strict no-drinking policy at home. Of course, it’s important to know that a teen can develop a substance abuse problem even in the absence of any family history of addiction.
12. Notice the Changes in Your Teen: Changes in sleep, mood, friends, activity level, academic performance, weight, personal hygiene, etc. can all signal a substance abuse problem. So pay attention. Monitor your child’s welfare with particular care at times of transition – moving to a new school, onset of puberty, breakups with boyfriends or girlfriends, etc.
13. Get Help: Two million teens between the ages of 12 and 17 need treatment for substance abuse. Sadly, only about 150,000 teens get the help they need. If you think your teen may have a problem, have him or her assessed by a mental health professional. A study completed in 2006 and published by the National Institute of Health and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that those who become alcohol dependent before the age of 25 are less likely to ever seek treatment than those who become alcohol dependence at age 30 or older. Prevention and early intervention are essential.
14. Talk About Driving: There are three primary causes of death among U.S. teens: accidents, homicides, and suicides. In most cases, they are drug-related. Talk to your teen about the dangers of driving under the influence.
The two articles that made up this series provided ways that parents can facilitate drug avoidance in teens. If there are still concerns, take your teen to a mental health professional.
Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.