Teen Drug Abuse: The Realities and How to Shelter Your Kids from It
Teen drug abuse and alcohol abuse is a difficult, but important issue that every parent must prepare themselves to discuss with their children. Nationally, illicit drug use continues to trend downward among American teenagers. However, the abuse of prescription drugs has increased dramatically in recent years thanks to the widespread availability of so many of them as well as the incorrect notion that they must be safer than illicit drugs since they can be obtained legally. Sadly this is not remotely true. Teen alcohol abuse unfortunately has not followed the same decline as illicit drug use in the United States. Alcohol continues to reign as the most frequently abused substance by teenagers in this country with approximately half of all junior high and high school students drinking alcohol on a monthly basis.
Since drugs and alcohol are not going away, the responsibility falls on the parents to prepare their kids for the seemingly inevitable presence of drugs and alcohol in the lives of their children. The most important thing that you can do from the beginning is talk to your kids. Try and keep the lines of communication as open and honest as possible so your kids opening up to you about teen drug abuse and underage drinking going on in their school won't seem so awkward and uncomfortable. Another important thing to remember is to not get angry or upset with your child when you try and have these conversations. It's perfectly natural for your son or daughter to be apprehensive to discuss these things, as it's a fairly taboo parent/child topic. You cannot force them to open up and tell you what's going on, you can just assure them that you were once their age as well and it would be difficult for them to shock you; you're sole concern is that they're prepared and safe and always reassure them that they can come to you anytime with questions or worries.
How to Empower Your Children to Resist Teen Drug Abuse
So much of our youth falls victim to teen drug abuse and underage drinking simply because they don't know how to say no. The hardest thing for parents to understand is that kids don't usually get drugs and alcohol from strangers; they get it from their friends. So your job becomes teaching them how to say no to their friends, the people they go to for acceptance, connection and fun which is no easy task. The first thing you can do is strongly encourage your kids not to spend time with peers engaging in underage drinking and teen drug abuse.
Role playing is another suggested tool on teaching your kid to say no when offered drugs or alcohol. Peer pressure is much more of an internal struggle than other kids actually harassing one another for not engaging in substance abuse. The pressure truly exists within your child and is centered on the fear of whether they'll still be accepted or excluded if they don't participate with the others. Practice situations with your children that help them develop strong, confident ways to say no when offered drugs or alcohol. Possible replies can range from the simple "No, I'm not into that" to "No, thanks. I'm on the ___ team and I don't want to risk it" to "I can'tâ¬"if my dad ever found out, he'd be really upset." All of these are simple yet effective ways to teach your child to resist falling into the trap that is teen drug abuse.