The teenage years are a delicate period in a young person’s life. Teens exhibit a powerful need to branch out, escape parental controls, and forge their own unique identity. This is a time when they will be sorely tempted by the excitement or escape that drugs seem to offer. But a teen who begins to abuse drugs or alcohol early in life is more likely to abuse them later on. Research shows that the majority of adults with substance addictions first tried drugs before they became adults.
Drugs can be beneficial when used for medical purposes. But when misused or taken to excess, drugs are harmful. Effects vary depending on the type of drug and the intensity and frequency with which it’s misused. Teens first begin using drugs out of curiosity, casually, but this can easily grow into full-blown addiction. Substance use may feel good at first, but protracted use causes severe mental and physical harm. The high, however, persuades an impressionable teen to keep coming back to the drug again and again.
Studies have shown that the main reason teens use alcohol or drugs are their parents. They often feel pressured by their parents to succeed at school or behave in a certain way. It is essential to build a harmonious and firm relationship with your kids to prevent teen drug abuse from taking root. The earlier parents made their kids fully aware of the pros and cons of drugs and alcohol, the better chance the teens stand of remaining drug-free. Here are some strategies for getting involved in your children’s future:
Speak and listen. The strongest influence in a teen’s life is their parents. There is much less chance that your teen will abuse drugs or alcohol if you give them your time, energy, and guidance. Prevent your child from making the wrong choices by talking and (most importantly) listening to them every day. Tell each other about the events in your lives, and listen attentively to your teen’s concerns without making judgments. If you have to correct them, do it in a positive manner and make your reasoning clear. Ample communication is a good way to find out what your teen thinks about drugs and alcohol abuse, and discover how curious they may be. Don’t be afraid that discussions about drug abuse will embed ideas about drugs in your teen’s head. Instead, let your teen know your views and understand what you expect of them. It is important to build and maintain good communication with them to help them stay away from the dangers of substance abuse.
Get involved. Teens are less likely to do drugs and alcohol if their parents care to be a part of their lives. By spending time with your teen every day and supporting them in their efforts at hobbies or sports, you will give them the support and encouragement they need to remain upstanding, confident individuals and resist the temptation of drugs or alcohol. Let them know that you are always there to listen and help them manage problems. It’s your job to help them make smart choices. Though you cannot control your teen’s behavior or choose their friends for them, you can help them make the best decision. Getting involved with your teen’s life can save him or her from a lot of grief.
Establish boundaries. This doesn’t mean that you have to lay down the law or be a tyrant. Studies show that parents who set rigid rules or no rules at all are more likely to have their teens try drugs. It is better to have simple rules that are consistently enforced. Make your expectations plain and explain the consequences for violations. This way, your teens will learn the importance of being responsible. Give praise when your teen responsibly follows rules and meets your expectations. Don’t forget to make them feel appreciated and to boost their self-confidence and self-worth.