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It is commonly believed among teenagers that trying a drug is no big deal if they do it just once. One time shouldn’t or couldn’t be harmful and they are intrigued to find out what all the talk is about. They might be exposed to illegal drugs in the home by older siblings, at high school parties or even by seeing their own parents indulge. They think they’ll do it just one time and then they’ll know what it is and never do it again. Or, they are too nervous to say no to a friend who is pressuring them and figure once will be fine. However, what many don’t realize is that trying something “just once” is the gateway to bigger problems.

Research has not discovered one single factor that can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs, or have the strength to easily pass them up at the next opportunity. Instead, the risk for addiction is affected by individual biology, social environment and the age of development. The genes that people are born with, along with the amount of peer pressure and quality of life, the amount of stress they are under, and the presence of any mental disorders all combine to influence risk level. Also, the earlier that a person starts using drugs, the more likely it will continue on to more serious use.

Both the short term and long term ramifications of drug use are alarming. For adolescents, areas in the brain that control their decision making, self-control and judgment are still developing and drug use can make them prone to more risk-taking behavior. This translates to driving too fast, or walking to close to a cliff or busy street and the overall feeling of being superhuman.

Drug use and addiction is definitely a preventable situation. Research shows that quality parenting and support in your child’s life can influence whether or not the adolescent will get involved in drugs. When teenagers perceive drug use as harmful and scary rather than a fun time, they reduce the amount or avoid drugs altogether.

Education is the key to prevention. The topic is touched upon in health sciences in our public school system, but probably not enough. An additional tool that every parent should give their young adult in middle or high school is access to alcohol and drug awareness classes. Online classes are becoming increasingly popular because they enable the students to take the courses from the convenience of their own web-based device at home. This means you simply enroll in a level 1 8-hour drug class online and the entire course is available to you immediately on your computer screen. The class can be taken whenever the client has time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A drug education class provides the essential tools that teens need to know and understand in order to be able to confidently walk away. Courses teach how drugs effect physical and mental development, what addiction means and how drug use affects everyone around them. Most importantly, they learn the necessary coping skills for staying clean and drug free.

Give your child the gift of a high quality drug education program this holiday season. Taking this proactive measure will show him how important the subject is to you and how much you care about his well-being. Classes are designed to be interesting to adolescents and he will walk away with a wealth of knowledge to keep him on the right course.