Parents: You Still Play A Role in Preventing Drug Use Among Your Teen
“You can’t defeat the darkness by keeping it caged inside of you.” – Seth Adam Smith
More than 90% of people with a substance use problem began smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18 (Center on Addiction). This statistic is alarming on many levels, but there is hope. A new survey (2018) by the Center on Addiction finds that parents of teens are still playing a crucial role in protecting their teens from substance use.
The report found that teens say parents and caregivers remain the greatest influence on them, even in high school. Linda Richter, Ph.D., Director of Policy Research and Analysis at the Center on Addiction, who authored the report states, “As teens get older, parents tend to think they should give their kids more independence, but there are ways to do that while still protecting them. It’s counterintuitive, but although older teens seem to resist input from their parents, it’s a time when they need parents the most (Center on Addiction).”
The report revealed that even though teens still look to parents and other caregivers for support when it comes to substance use, many teens admitted that nicotine, alcohol and other drugs are a normal part of their everyday lives.
Risks of Substance Use
The study also found that risk factors for substance use increase significantly as teens age. More 15-17-year olds than 12-14-year olds reported:
- Having at least a few close friends who drink beer or other alcohol, smoke cigarettes or vape, use marijuana, or misuse prescription drugs.
- Having a few close friends who engage in substance use. Twice as many older teens said their close friends use substances (61% vs. 29%).
- Personally knowing someone addicted to nicotine, alcohol, marijuana or prescription pain relievers.
- Relying on sources of information about drugs that can be considered unreliable, such as other teens, social media or the Internet.
- Being able to obtain illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine easily within a day if they wanted.
More than half of teens surveyed said they believe that kids their age choose not to drink or use drugs either because they think their parents would disapprove, or because they don’t want to get in trouble.
How Parents Can Help
“The key is to be well-informed, and not seem out of touch—otherwise, teens will tune you out, states Dr. Richter. (Center on Addiction).” Other key recommendations for parents:
- Monitor who your teen spends time with, what they do during their free time, as well as their social media account activities.
- Take an interest in your children’s interests.
- Set clear, fair rules and stick to them.
- Be up-to-date about the types of addictive substances your teen might encounter.
- Have frequent, honest conversations with your teen about substance use and addiction, but also about their hopes and plans, concerns and fears.
- Seek help early for signs of risk from a trusted health professional.
Treatment for Addiction
If you or your loved one suffers from a substance use disorder or addiction, get help now. There is no cure for addiction, but treatment is available and there is hope in recovery. Many who struggle with addiction get help and live enjoyable, healthy, fulfilling lives. Recovery is a lifelong process and getting support from loved ones will encourage your success. Contact us today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT to get the help you need.