Experimenting with drugs and alcohol during adolescence is unfortunately fairly common. Adolescents try these substances because their friends are doing it and they are trying to fit in, to help them socialize and relax. Teenagers often live in the moment and don’t think about the long-term repercussions of the risks they are taking today. Statistics show that about 1 out of 5 teenagers have tried marijuana at least once with the average age starting at 14 and 12 years old for alcohol. Some warning signs that your teenager is using include red and glazed eyes, complaints of fatigue, decreased interest in school accompanied with a drop in grades and changing social groups.
Research proves that the number reason kids say that they don’t want to try alcohol or drugs is because they don’t want to disappoint their parents. While there is no silver bullet to insure that your child will never do drugs or drink alcohol, parents can reduce the risk of abuse by following some of the following suggestions:
- Create an open relationship with your child early on. Talk to them everyday and let them know that you value their thoughts, opinions and input.
- Encourage positive behavior, healthy eating and if you can, exercise with them.
- Be a good role model. Your kids are watching your every move so use alcohol in moderation, never get behind the wheel after you have been drinking and have discussions about bad behavior you see on television shows or amongst other adults.
- Guide your children to choose good friends. Get to know them and their families.
- Involve your children in organizations that send a positive message like scouts, sports teams and art or music classes.
- As early as the 4th grade, parents can start having short conversations about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.
- Set clear rules and punishments for alcohol and drug use.
- Plan family dinners 3 – 5 times per week. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that kids who eat dinner with their families are less likely to use drugs or drink.
If you suspect that your teen is using alcohol or is caught with drugs, experts agree to confront the problem immediately. Often times, approaching it as a health issue rather than a moral issue can be the most effective way to go about it. Explain to them that you love them and want them to reach their full potential. Along with all of this advice, many parents have found that having their young adult enroll in a drug and alcohol awareness class can further drive the message home. Most school districts are tight on funds these days and no longer have the instruction on campus, so an easy, convenient and educational format is to enroll them in a private, online course. Kids today love the idea of utilizing their Laptop, PC, IPad or even Smartphone to learn from the comfort of the couch at home. Online classes can be more effective for adolescents who are shy to go into a classroom full of strangers or are busy and just can’t fit them in during the workday. Online classes can be accessed from anywhere in the U.S. that has Internet connection and at any time of the day or night. Teenagers often get a second wind and do their best learning after hours when everyone else is asleep. Online alcohol and drug awareness classes will explain the effects and consequences of use and abuse and could save their life!