Teenager Drug and Alcohol Use

A Tough Subject to Talk About: Teenager Drug and Alcohol Use

It is important to speak to a teen about teenager drug and alcohol use as a proactive or reactive measure. Communication often becomes difficult at this age as kids strive for greater independence, and parents struggle to find a balance between parental responsibilities and the child’s need for self-growth. According to Wake Forest Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Rebecca Weinshilboum, the topics of teenager drug and alcohol use are among the hardest subjects for parents to discuss with their kids. The efforts you make to talk with your teen, coupled with public awareness and their school’s health education program, can make a difference.

Teenager Drug and Alcohol Use

Teenager Drug and Alcohol Use

Even if you’ve discovered your teenager is taking drugs or drinking alcohol, it’s not too late to talk to them. A frank conversation that spells out your concerns and how you plan to help can prevent the problem from escalating. Talking to teens isn’t necessarily the easiest parenting task, but it is important, especially where drugs and alcohol are concerned. The American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that talking with your son or daughter about drugs and alcohol can help you learn about their concerns, fears and the difficulties they may have been trying to cope with through substance abuse. As you speak with your teen, you pave the way toward providing effective help.

Speaking to Your Teen to Prevent Substance Abuse

  • Discuss the Consequences of Substance Abuse. Many teens are not aware of the legal and health consequences of substance abuse. They know it’s dangerous, but specific details can lead them toward the decision to steer clear.
  • Encourage Healthy Activities and Relationships. A busy teen who’s involved in positive activities and surrounded by friends and adults who set a good example is more prone to avoid drug and alcohol experimentation.
  • Talk About Handling Peer Pressure. Every teen faces peer pressure; knowing ahead of time how to handle it provides your teen with a solution. Help your teen come up with easy outs, such as “my mom will have a fit if I don’t get home” or “I have to go to work now“.
  • Give Praise. Teens grapple with self-confidence; praise the good things they do to help build them up.

Talking to a Teen Who’s Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

  • Present a United Front. Talk with your partner before sitting down with your teen to get on the same page. Conflict on how you want to handle your child’s substance abuse will only exacerbate the problem.
  • Sit Down When Your Teen is Sober. Talk to your teenager when he or she is sober. Give him or her your undivided attention.
  • Express Detailed Concerns. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America recommends writing down your observations so you can provide detailed examples when talking with your teen. It’s more effective to say “I’m worried because you smelled like alcohol last night and your eyes were red” than to say “I suspect you’re drinking“.
  • Explain Rules and Consequences. Specific rules and expectations tell your teen what’s acceptable and what’s not. Explain your rules clearly, such as “All car privileges will be removed if you come home high again” and then follow through with the consequences.
  • Discuss a Plan for Getting Help. Talk to your teen about seeking help for drug or alcohol use. Casual use can quickly develop into dependence and addiction. Let your teen know that it is because you love them that you are reaching out to others for help.

Seek Help for Your Teenager Drug and Alcohol Use

According to the Palo Alto Medical Association, parents have a tendency to underestimate the amount of exposure their teen child receives to alcohol and drugs. As a parent, your instincts are one of your best assets and you shouldn’t doubt them. If you suspect that your teenager is using drugs or alcohol, sit down and talk with them about it right away. When clear signs and symptoms show you that teenage drug and alcohol use is an issue, the steps you take to get help can assist your teen in getting back on the right track. The caring staff  can assist your teen in recovery from addiction so he or she has the chance to enjoy a happy, healthy life.

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