The well-being and safety of teenagers are at stake when they’re addicted to drugs. A simple way of preventing them from using drugs is by educating them about the risks and the importance of making healthy choices.
In addition to short and long-term health effects, substance abuse during adolescence can have severe consequences.
Evidence indicates that young people consume substances excessively despite steep declines in drug and alcohol consumption in socioeconomically affluent areas.
Therefore, we need to understand the reasons behind substance use in this group (teens & tweens), including how they perceive different prevention strategies to prevent substance use-related harm.
Why are teens into drugs?
First and foremost, we need to understand the why. Several factors can influence addiction and misuse of drugs by teens.
People who use it for the first time do so in social settings with easy access to substances such as alcohol and cigarettes.
There might be psychological reasons for continued use in teens, such as insecurity or a desire for social acceptance.
It is also possible for teenagers to feel indestructible when using specific substances like heroin and opium, leading them to use these dangerous drugs without thinking about the consequences.
Teen drug abuse is associated with the following risk factors:
- Addiction in the family
- Mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Risk-taking or compulsive behavior
- A history of trauma, such as being in a car accident or suffering abuse
- Feelings of social rejection or low self-esteem
- Unrealistic expectations by parents
Apart from this, rehab centers like The Palm Beach Institute believe that teens using harmful substances cope with distressing mental and emotional conditions.
Even though these conditions are temporary, the long-term effects of substance abuse can be devastating.
- Having depression or anxiety
- Relationship issues with a family member, friend, or romantic partner.
- A declining or poor health state
- Low self-esteem
- Loss, grief, or trauma
- Isolation and difficulties making friends
Teens may also use illicit substances due to peer pressure and the desire to belong, which can have devastating effects on their health and relationships.
Addiction, polydrug use, and unwanted pregnancy are among the consequences of teen drug abuse.
How to Prevent Addiction in Teenagers
New research from the Center on Addiction finds that parents have the most significant influence on their children’s decisions about substance abuse.
Kids also agree. Today, almost 56% of teenagers believe their parents are responsible for keeping them away from drugs and alcohol.
The same percentage said the relationship they have with their parents is good.
You might be wondering how is this possible? Parents often find it challenging to get through to teenagers, who are often so focused on their social status and peers’ opinions.
Furthermore, in an era where underage drinking is so normalized, as well as many drugs deemed as “legal” and “safe,” many parents believe it is near impossible to keep their kids from using drugs.
Parents have the (indirect) ability to
- Minimize the exposure of their teens to drugs by modifying their child’s social circle
- Provide accurate information about drugs to their teens (instead of misinformation)
- Develop a positive and loving relationship with their teen, which will eventually lead to trust
Children who have entered (or are entering) adolescence are already at risk of being exposed to drugs.
On the other hand, teenagers make positive decisions when they know their parents would disapprove, which means your involvement in your child’s life can reduce the likelihood of your child using drugs or alcohol.
Even scientific research shows how parents impact their kids’ lives.
Tips for Parents to Prevent Substance Abuse in Teens
A teenager who has “excellent” relations with their parents is almost twice more likely not to have friends who use drugs.
Likewise, people who have honest and encouraging parents who keep up with their daily activities are less likely to have drug-using friends.
As a result, their risk of using drugs and drinking is substantially reduced. Often, parents have difficulty maintaining a loving, trusting, and encouraging relationship with their teens while keeping a close eye on them at the same time.
Here’s how you can prevent teens from using drugs.
1. Build trust
Developing trust with your teenager will be easier if you listen to them constantly and encourage them to speak freely.
If you’re open to their opinions and pay attention to what they want, they’ll turn to you when they’re in trouble.
The likelihood of teens breaking rules increases if they believe their parents are unforgiving, judgmental, or not trustworthy.
2. Communicate honestly and openly
Speaking to teens can be challenging, especially when they want nothing to do with their parents or are too absorbed in their social media feeds.
But teens do need this form of communication. Keep in touch with your teenager, even if they seem distant to you.
You can start by asking, “How was your day?” or have more serious conversations about drugs, or your teen’s hopes, dreams, fears, and concerns.
Ensure your teen knows you’re always there to listen. Studies indicate that parents who offer practical advice and listen to their teens with non-judgmental attitudes can significantly influence their teens’ actions.
3. Whenever possible, eat together
You can prevent your child’s desire to take drugs by taking a small initiative; encouraging positive conversation during dinner.
Take advantage of the opportunity to listen, get to know what they are interested in, who their friends are, and what is happening in their lives.
Ensure everyone actively listens and participates by removing all distractions from the table, such as cell phones.
4. Be aware of your child’s friends
You can better understand your child’s potential drug exposure by knowing their friends. For example, rather than letting your teen go to a friend’s house every weekend, make your house a place where their friends can gather.
Set rules and create a place they’ll want to spend time in. Be distant and observe.
The Way Forward
Drug abuse among teens is a reality, as the alarmingly numbers of teens suffering from it indicate. Consequently, if you want to protect your child from this problem, it is best to take precautionary measures from the start.
Rather than wait for your child to fall prey to drugs, you should take the initiative by not just talking to them but also listening to them. Remember that you’ve got the power to save your child as a parent.