Few things alarm parents like the possibility that their teenager is using drugs. Teens who use drugs are at risk of several negative consequences, so this is not surprising. They may drive while impaired, engage in risky sexual behaviors, become addicted, or develop serious medical problems.
Since starting drug use as a teenager can lead to many issues later in life, you’ll naturally want to prevent them from starting in the first place. In this blog post, our Asheville rehabilitation experts will provide some tips to help you. However, it’s important to understand what drives young people to use and abuse drugs.
Why Teens May Abuse Drugs
There is no single factor that leads to drug use and abuse. Some teens experiment out of sheer curiosity while others believe they need to use drugs if they want to fit in. Teenagers often have poor judgment and they feel like nothing can harm them. They may not think about the consequences of using illegal drugs or misusing prescription or over-the-counter medication.
Teen are especially vulnerable to drug abuse during significant transition periods in their lives. Physical changes, moving from one neighborhood to another, or watching parents go through a divorce can all trigger problematic behaviors. If your teen or your family is going through a major change, you should pay closer attention to them.
It’s also important to know that teenagers who are experiencing high levels of stress, low academic competence, and low levels of parental support are particularly at risk. Other common risk factors include:
- Low self-esteem
- A tendency toward impulsive behavior
- A family history of substance abuse
- Depression, anxiety, ADHD or another mental or behavioral health condition
- A history of exposure to trauma
Preventing Teen Drug Use
Most teens who try drugs stop. However, addiction is still a possibility. Now that you know some of the factors that can lead to drug use and abuse, you can take the necessary steps.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Talk to your teenager about the effects of using drugs. Let them know how drug abuse can negatively impact their health, their friendships, and their ability to achieve their goals. Be sure they’re clear about why they shouldn’t use drugs instead of simply telling them to “say no”. Keep in mind that you’ll need to have multiple conversations about drugs with your teen and you shouldn’t be the one doing all the talking. It may not seem like there’s a lot to debate where drug use is concerned but you need to listen to what your teen has to say. Some of the things they share may be alarming even if they only relate to what their schoolmates are doing.
Continue to Play a Role in Their Lives
As children get older, they spend more time with their peers and less with their parents. However, you need to make it a priority to spend time with your teenager. On a regular basis, give them your undivided attention. Turn off all your electronic devices and have a conversation. There may be some resistance at first, but your teen will appreciate the fact that you’re making an effort to listen. This is how you’ll learn more about who their friends are, where they go, and what they do. This makes it easier for you to protect them.
Set Rules and Enforce Them
Some teenagers will heed your advice and decide not to use drugs or to stop if they’ve already started. However, keeping your teen away from drugs may require more than just talking. You need to put clear rules in place and enforce them consistently. When teens don’t have structure in their lives, they’re more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors. Ensure there’s a clear cause and effect system is in place as it relates to drug use, curfew, attending parties, and checking in when they’re away from home.
Set a Good Example
Your teen looks up to you even if it doesn’t seem like they think you’re cool. They will take cues from you on how to deal with difficult people and situations. You may think you’re in the clear if you don’t use cocaine or heroin. However, if take a pill or open a bottle of wine whenever you’re stressed, they may think substance use is the way to respond to problems. Helping your teen to stay away from drugs may require you to assess and change some of your own behavior.
Contact Asheville Recovery Center for More Assistance
If you suspect that your teen has been abusing drugs, you need to seek professional help. Don’t try to handle it on your own. Call the team at Asheville Recovery Center and share your concerns with one of our addiction treatment experts. We’ll guide you on the next steps.