Drug abuse in teens is one of the major social and health problems confronting our society. Despite the billions of dollars that has been spent by law enforcement and health authorities around the world over an extended period of many years, there seems to be little improvement in the overall situation.
Stopping drug abuse in teens is vital to containing drug addiction throughout society, as teen users soon become adult users, and continue the cycle. Extensive research into the issue has ensured that modern parents have a lot of information available to them, but experts believe that communication is the best place to start.
Educating teens about the effects of drugs on the teenage body and brain has been proven to significantly decrease substance abuse. While this education can come from any source, such as lectures at school, information on the internet, counselling sessions and such, discussions with interested and concerned parents have been proven to be the most effective.
Aside from information, there is another powerful weapon in the parental arsenal against drugs. A significant body of knowledge supports the idea that people respond to the expectations of the significant others in their lives. That is, if a parent expects their teen to be rude and lazy, chances are they will exhibit that behaviour.
Conversely, if parental expectations are positive, the teen will do their best to meet those expectations. This applies just as much to drug use as any other behaviour. Well-informed parents need to include specific topics about drugs in their discussions with their teens.
The negative physical and emotional effects of drugs are dire, especially on the developing teenage brain. Discussing these effects frankly with teenagers, and engaging them in information gathering and sharing, establishes common ground and helps to develop trust. Should the teen then be approached to take drugs or are in some other way compromised regarding drugs, it is very likely they will not hesitate to ask their parents for assistance.
The importance of parents’ knowing their teens’ social circle and favourite activities has been recognised for many years, and is a very effective deterrent in limiting access to drugs and drug abuse in teens. Psychologists recommends establishing boundaries around their social activities that allow them some freedom and responsibility while limiting the physical amount of time they could be in an environment where drugs could be available.
Identifying drug problems in their teenager is one of the life issues that no parent wants to confront. However in our current society exposure to drugs is something that is more likely to happen than not. Arming your teenager with strategies to resist drug use will go a long way to getting them through this difficult time.