A Message To Parents On: Drugs and Alcohol, Risky Behaviors, and Peer Pressure
Today’s teens are dealing with much larger social pressures due to the advancements in the internet, texting, and technology. It is highly likely that your teen may be exposed to risky behaviors such no matter where they go. Many teens are tempted to try drugs or alcohol to fit in, out of curiosity, or simply to help cope or self-medicate the difficult emotions of anxiety or depression that often coincide with the turbulent teen years. Most teens do not try drugs and alcohol with the expectation that they will become addicted and drug abusers. However, even occasional use can have harmful consequences that are potentially deadly. The research shows that most parents are not aware of and do not identify their teen’s use until after a year. Many parents will know that their child does not seem the same, but will assume it is just a part of being a “hormonal” teenager. It is critical that parents are involved in their teens’ lives, know who their friends are, know their friends’ parents, and are aware of potential signs of drug use.
Parents, rightfully hover over their toddlers and elementary school age kids to make sure that they are safe. As children become teens, they can take care of themselves and so parents often give their teens much more freedom and assume their child would never try or use drugs. Is your child’s life worth assuming that he/she would never try drugs or alcohol? Experts in drug prevention recommend that parents randomly drug test their teenager periodically. (These drug tests can be purchased at the local drug store.) Random drug testing helps teens as well, as it provides teenagers with a good excuse to say “no” when they may be encouraged to try drugs. “No, my parents randomly drug test me all the time.” A great strategy to help your teen stay strong against peer pressure is to role play. Practice situations that may arise and allow your teen to rehearse what he/she can say and do in that situation. When practicing, it is helpful if the teen can say “no” in a firm but friendly manner, so they can say “no” to the activity, as opposed to saying “no” to the friendship. The more your teens have a practiced plan, the more likely they will be able to successfully resist peer pressure with confidence when the moment arises. You can also make an agreement with your teen to abstain from drugs and to resist peer pressure here.
For more information, visit the following websites:
A DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) resource for parents that brings them up to date on drug trends and prevention strategies.
The Partnership at Drugfree.org is a great website for parents, helping them prevent, intervene in or find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children.