Statistics concerning teens and drug abuse are staggering; nearly 1 in 5 teens have abused prescription drugs. Some teens take unnecessary risks. It seems risk taking and drugs go hand-in-hand, but as a parent you may not be clear about how you can help your teen avoid these tendencies.
It’s not unusual for teens to be curious about drugs and alcohol due to its use in television shows and in movies. Obviously you want to do what you can to ensure your child doesn’t become a statistic; understanding why teens use drugs as a means of taking risks is important.
Teens don’t think they’ll become addicts the first time they try drugs or alcohol. In fact, most teens think it won’t happen to them and that’s part of the risk. One step above all others in keeping your teens from risk taking and drugs is open communication. Talk to your children and teens about misusing and abusing drugs. There are resources available through doctors and online to help you address this topic with your teens.
Have you heard of “pharm parties”? Teens will take prescription medication from their parent’s medicine cabinet and take them to a party. All of the tablets are mixed together in a bowl and each person present ingests whatever they take out of the bowl without knowledge of what the medicine is, what it’s used for, or what the prescription is. Teens may think they’re “just having fun” but the facts state differently – teens are dying at alarming rates from this type of risky behavior mixed with drugs.
* Monitor – Know what prescriptions medications are in your home and how many pills or tablets is left in each prescription. Count the pills when you’ve taken a dosage and then again periodically to ensure pills aren’t missing.
* Secure – You baby-proofed your home when your child was young; in the case of your teen and prescription medications it can still be necessary. Medications stored properly are accessible only to those who need them.
* Dispose – Leftover or expired prescriptions should be disposed of quickly and properly. Check with the doctor who prescribed the medicine for their recommendations, or with the pharmacy that filled the prescription. Some pharmacies will take back expired or leftover prescriptions to avoid the possibility of children or teens having access to them.
You may think peer pressure is the leading reason why teens fall prey to risk taking and drugs. Actually, most teens who drink or take drugs report doing so because “it feels good” or because it helps them forget their problems. Peer pressure is the third on the list of contributing factors. The fourth reason teens give for drinking and taking drugs is that they have nothing better to do.
It’s important to talk to your teen about the possible consequences for risk taking and drugs. Injuries are possible, not only to themselves, but to innocent people who may be with or near them. Drug and alcohol abuse can also harm your teens physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s easy to see why there is such a push to help parents learn to talk to their teens about risk taking and drug or alcohol use.