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Beyond "Just Say No": Empowering Teens to Avoid Drug Abuse

on Wednesday, 27 May 2015. Posted in Breaking News

As a parent, you know that when your teenager experiments with drugs they put their health and safety on the line. Sometimes parents can feel overwhelmed or even helpless when it comes to talking to their teenager about drugs, but talking to your kids and understanding why they may abuse drugs is an important part of prevention.

The following is a short guide for empowering teens to avoid drug abuse for parents, guardians, and or anyone who needs to talk to a teen about this difficult topic.

Why do teenagers abuse drugs?

There are many factors that may cause a teenager to turn to drugs. As a parent, it's a good idea to be aware of what is going on in your child's life, what pressures or difficulties they may be facing, and also to get to know their friends and peers.

In addition to feeling the pressure at home or school and having friends who abuse drugs, a teen may start abusing because of emotional issues. Depression, boredom, loneliness, or anxiety are just some of the uncomfortable feelings that often lead to drug use in both teenagers and adults. Be sure that your teen is getting help for any mental health issues they may be having.

Check in with your teenager from time to time as their risk factors are constantly changing. They may have a new group of friends who use drugs often, or they may be feeling especially sad or insecure. Staying aware and engaged with your teenager is always a good preventative measure.

How to talk to a teenager about drug use.

Many parents try to avoid talking to their kids about this topic because it can be so difficult and uncomfortable for both parties. Don't wait until you have a reason to sit down and talk about drug abuse with your kids.

Set aside a good time for both of you to sit down and focus on the topic. It's a good idea for both parents to be involved in the discussion if possible, and if you're feeling nervous, be sure to mention that to your kids. It's very likely they're feeling the same way. Here are some tips for talking about drug abuse:

Ask your teen how they feel about drug use and be sure to listen.
Avoid lecturing or being confrontational with your teenager. Remember, you're having a conversation with them, so you should be sure to give them a chance to express their views and feel they are being heard. Make it obvious that you're interested in what they have to say by asking them questions and encouraging them.

Be clear about why using drugs is harmful.
Try to think of the things your teen cares about, such as performance at sports or school, appearance, driving, or health, and explain to them how drugs can affect those things. Avoid trying to scare them.

Talk about peer pressure and develop a strategy.
Ask your teen if they've ever faced peer pressure to do drugs. They may or may not answer you honestly, but you can work with them to develop some strategies to deal with any peer pressure as it arises. Go through some possible scenarios and devise ways or responses your teen could use to handle them.

You may have to talk about your own drug use.
This is another difficult thing for a parent to do, but it's important for your teenager to know if you've used drugs in the past and what you learned from it. Your own story could be a lesson for them to gain knowledge from.

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