Almost all addicts will report they began their behaviors of substance abuse during their teen years. Experimentation with drugs and alcohol during the teen years is often thought of as harmless curiosity, but the opposite is true. The younger a person is when they start using drugs, the more likely they are to develop an addiction and suffer from other serious side effects.
Rather than dealing with a drug problem once your teen has already started using, you can help prevent them from ever getting mixed up with drugs in the first place. Here’s how:
The single most effective thing you can do to prevent your teen from using drugs is to talk with them openly about the subject. Rather than avoiding the topic for fear of giving them any ideas, candidly ask your teen what their experience with drugs and alcohol has been, and what their opinions are.
Listen without judgement to what your teen has to say, and respond calmly and matter-of-factly. Explain to your teen the dangers associated with underage alcohol and drug use. Warn them that addiction is a harmful disease that can be avoided if they take proper care.
Your teen will be less likely to use drugs or alcohol if they know that you care about them, and expect them to take good care of themselves. Ask your teen about their social life – who their friends are, what their interests are, and what their plans are each day.
Be clear with your teen about what the family rules are regarding drug and alcohol use, and what the consequences would be if they are broken. Get to know your teen’s friends, and make sure they know what your family’s rules are, too.
Know the Warning Signs
Even if you’re doing everything you can to prevent your teen from using drugs, they may still try them out. Stress at home or school, peer pressure, mental illness, low self-esteem, and many other factors all contribute to a teen’s risk for drug use.
If you know the warning signs of drug use ahead of time, you’ll be better prepared to recognize problems and deal with them early on, hopefully before an addiction develops. Some of the warning signs of drug or alcohol use include:
- A change in attitude or personality, such as increased irritability or hostility, or a lack of interest in usual activities.
- Changes in physical appearance, sleep patterns, appetite, or energy level.
- A switch in social life away from old friends to new friends.
- Acting suspicious or secretive about activities.
- Asking for extra money without a reason, or stealing money.
Any one of these warning signs on their own doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem, but if your teen is exhibiting more than one sign, or if you find drug paraphernalia in their possession, take action right away. Speak calmly with your teen to ascertain the extent of their involvement with drugs, and seek treatment for any possible addiction.
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Guest Author Bio
Joey Holub was the first resident and graduate of Shadow Mountain. Now over 5 1/2 years sober, he can relate firsthand to the feelings every addict faces during recovery. The day Joey decided to commit to his own recovery is the most important day in his life. Joey now lives in Denver, CO, is very active in the recovery community, working closely with others to assist them in their own drug and alcohol addiction recovery.
Blog / Website: http://www.shadowmountainrecovery.com/