Teenagers who experiment with substances endanger their health and safety. Talk to your teen about the consequences of drug use and the significance of making healthy choices to help avoid teen drug misuse.
Why teens use or misuse drugs
Teen drug use and usage can be influenced by a variety of circumstances. First-time use is frequently observed in social settings with readily available substances such as alcohol and cigarettes. Insecurities or a desire for social recognition may drive continued use. Teens may believe they are invincible and fail to consider the implications of their behaviour, causing them to take dangerous drug risks. The following are some of the most common risk factors for teen drug abuse:
Consequences of teen drug abuse
Negative consequences of teen drug abuse might include:
• Drug dependency. Teens who use drugs are more likely to become addicted to drugs later in life.
• Poor judgment. Teenage drug use is related with poor judgment in both personal and social interactions.
• Sexual activity. Drug use is associated with risky sexual activity, unsafe sex, and unintended pregnancy.
• Mental health problems. Drug use can enhance or increase the risk of mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
• Impaired driving. Driving while under the influence of any drug can impair a motorist’s motor skills, putting the driver, passengers, and others on the road in danger.
• Changes in academic performance. Substance abuse can lead to a drop in academic performance.
Health effects of drugs
Drug usage can lead to addiction, severe disability, sickness, and death. The following are some of the health hazards associated with commonly used drugs:
• Ecstasy/MDMA — Increased risk of liver and cardiac failure
• Inhalants (Ethyl chloride, Dandy) — Risk of heart, lung, liver, and kidney damage from long-term use
• Marijuana — Risk of impairment in memory, learning, problem solving, and concentration; risk of psychosis — such as schizophrenia, hallucination, or paranoia — later in life associated with early and frequent use
• Methamphetamine — Risk of psychotic behaviours from long-term use or high doses
• Opioids — Risk of respiratory distress or death from overdose
• Electronic cigarettes (vaping) — Exposure to harmful substances similar to exposure from cigarette smoking; risk of nicotine dependence
Talking about teen drug use
You’ll almost certainly have several discussions with your teen concerning drug and alcohol use. Choose periods when you are unlikely to be disturbed – and leave your phone at home. It’s also crucial to understand when not to engage in discussion, such as when you’re upset with your child, you’re not prepared to answer inquiries, or your teen is intoxicated or high.
• Inquire about your teen’s feelings concerning drugs. Avoid giving lectures. Instead, pay attention to your teen’s drug-related thoughts and queries. Assure your teen that he or she will be truthful with you.
• Discuss the benefits of not using drugs. Avoid using fear tactics. Emphasize how drug use might influence your teen’s interests, such as sports, driving, health, and looks.
• Consider the messages in the media. Drug use can be glamorized or trivialized in social media, television shows, movies, and songs. Discuss what your teen sees and hears.
• Talk about techniques to reject peer pressure. Talk with your teen about how to decline drug offers.
• Prepare to talk about your own drug use. Consider how you will reply if your teen inquiries about your drug use. Explain why you choose not to use drugs. If you did use drugs, explain what you learned from the experience.
Other preventive strategies
Consider the following measures for preventing adolescent drug abuse:
• Be aware of your teen’s actions. Keep an eye on your teen’s whereabouts. Discover what adult-supervised activity your teen enjoys and encourage him or her to participate.
• Establish ground rules and penalties. Explain your household regulations, such as leaving a party where drugs are used and avoiding traveling in a car with a drug-addicted driver. If your teen violates the rules, impose consistent consequences.
• Get to know your teen’s friends. If your teen’s peers take drugs, he or she may feel pressured to try them as well.
• Offer assistance. When your teen succeeds, give him or her praise and encouragement. A solid link between you and your teen may help keep your teen away from drugs.
• Keep track of prescribed medications. Make a list of any prescription and over-the-counter medications you have in your home.
• Lead by example. Consume alcohol in moderation. Prescription medications should be taken exactly as prescribed. Don’t experiment with illegal drugs.
Recognizing the warning signs of teen drug abuse
Be alert of any potential red signs, such as:
• Sudden or pronounced changes in friends, dietary habits, sleep cycles, appearance, coordination, or academic performance
• Reckless behaviour, bad judgment, and a general absence of interest
• Disobeying rules or distancing from family
• The presence of medical containers or paraphernalia in your child’s room, despite the absence of illness.
Seeking help for teen drug abuse
If you anticipate or know that your adolescent is experimenting with or abusing drugs, take the following precautions:
• Speak with him or her. It is never too early to intervene. Casual drug usage can progress to excessive use or addiction, resulting in accidents, legal troubles, and health issues.
• Promote honesty. Speak softly and clearly, expressing your concern. Provide specifics to support your suspicion. Check out any claims he or she makes.
• Concentrate on the behaviour, not the person. Stress that substance use is dangerous, but it does not imply that your kid is a bad person.
• Check in on a regular basis. Spend extra time with your kid, be aware of his or her activities, and ask questions when he or she gets back home.
• Seek professional assistance. If you suspect your child is abusing drugs, seek help from a doctor, therapist, or other health care provider.
It is never too early to begin discussing drug abuse with your adolescent. Conversations like this one can help your child make healthier choices in the future.