Preventing Teen Drug Abuse
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: a child who abuses drugs, putting their health and future at risk. Most parents understand the many risks of drug abuse. It can lead to overdoses, lost opportunities at school and criminal charges. In the most tragic circumstances, it leads to fatalities.
How to Prevent Youth Drug Abuse
Preventing drug abuse starts by understanding which teens are at risk. Your teen may be at risk if:
- They spend time with friends who use drugs themselves
- They are impulsive
- They have mental health problems or health conditions
- There is a history of addiction in the family
- They lack positive adult role models
- They are at a transitioning stage of their lives — for example, they are changing schools or going through puberty
- They suffer from low self-esteem or have a hard time making friends
- They have a history of trauma, such as past abuse
Knowing the risks means you understand when you need to take extra steps to protect your teen. At the same time, keep in mind even teens without these risk factors will sometimes experiment or even become addicted.
What You Can Do
If you have teens, there are several ways you can prevent drug abuse and addiction:
1) Set rules.
Set rules about drug use and other types of behavior. For example, you may have a rule about not driving with someone who has been taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Have consequences in place if these rules are broken.
2) Know what your teens are doing and who their friends are.
Your children are more likely to abuse drugs or try hard drugs if they spend time with teens who are involved with drugs themselves.
3) Know the signs of drug addiction.
If your teen suddenly exhibits changed behaviors, falling grades, mood swings or sleep disorders, be concerned. If your child completely changes their peer or friend group and struggles with maintaining relationships, suggest family counseling or a trip to the doctor.
4) Talk to your teen about drugs.
Sit down and have more than one discussion about drugs. Talk to your teens about the effects of drugs on the activities that matter to them — sports, friends and favorite hobbies. In the past, parents would sometimes use scare tactics, but today doctors recommend a frank and open discussion about the dangers of drugs instead.
Don’t forget to talk about the way drugs appear on television and in movies. In many cases, teens get mixed messages about narcotics. On the one hand, they may be told they are dangerous, but on the other hand, they may see them used without huge consequences on their favorite shows or in movies. Talk to them about why drugs are used as a plot device.
Since, in many cases, friends offer teens drugs, discuss how to handle peer pressure with your teen. Have your child come up with ways they can resist peer pressure if it arises.
5) Ask your teenager what they think about drugs.
Many well-intentioned parents turn discussions of drugs into lectures. Make sure you ask your teen what they think about drugs and prepare for a frank discussion. Your teen may have questions or concerns you can address. Listen to your child.
6) Know how to prevent teen prescription drug abuse.
Parents sometimes think narcotics are the main concern, but teens can also abuse and become addicted to prescription drugs. Keep track of the amount of prescription drugs in your home. If your teen needs to take prescription medicine for an injury, make sure they understand how to safely use the medicine so they don’t become dependent.
7) Be a good role model.
Don’t use or abuse drugs yourself.
What You Do If You Suspect Your Teen Is Taking Drugs
If you suspect your teen is taking drugs, sit down and talk to them. If they have already been convicted, contact an attorney and family counselor with experience in addictions. The earlier you get through to your teen and the earlier you take steps to prevent abuse and addiction, the more quickly your child can start rebuilding their life for a brighter future ahead.
We hope these tips have helped you learn how to prevent teen drug addiction, we hope these tips have helped you. If your teen is charged with a drug offense or if you need legal advice, you can always contact MPL Law Firm in York, PA for a consultation. Our firm works with many families and we understand how difficult a time like this can be for families. We offer full confidentiality and a supportive environment for you and your family.