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How to promote drug abuse education in the family

Teenage drug use and substance abuse has been affecting teens and young adults for longer than most people wanted to acknowledge. With mounting pressure to fit in from friends and increased use of social media, staying popular and well-liked within the teen community can come with a price.

Thinking that your child or loved one could be challenged by substance abuse is incredibly scary, making some parents want to just sweep the issue under the rug. But, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Educating yourself and your children to the signs, symptoms, long and short term effects of drug use is one of the best ways to keep your child safe.

According to a 2014 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, amongst eighth, tenth and twelfth graders the abuse of alcohol, cigarettes and prescription painkillers is decreasing. In addition, the study showed no increase in the use of marijuana and decreased use of inhalants, synthetic drugs and a “general decline” of illicit drugs over the last ten years.

Photo credit: NIH

But, just because this study tells us that use of certain drugs appears to be decreasing, doesn’t mean that the problem is solved. The survey also concluded that teens showed an increased use of e-cigarettes as well as “softening attitudes” towards marijuana and other types of drug use. Meaning, while they may not be using, most teens don’t see the use of certain drugs as a “really big deal.”

With an increase in the legalization of medical marijuana, and even recreational use, it’s become more difficult for teens and adolescents to view the substance as a threat when it’s receiving mixed media attention.

With continuing concerns about teenage and high-school drug use, it’s best to approach the situation with the following things in mind:

  • Be open and understanding: If your child comes to you with questions or concerns, do your best to listen and help. Fear and anger often push them away, challenging the relationship you have.
  • Listen, don’t accuse: approach your child with a kind and curious attitude, screaming and yelling only promotes defensive behavior and won’t get you anywhere productive.
  • Educate yourself and promote healthy actions in the home: knowing the signs and symptoms of drug use and drug abuse can help you recognize early signs of trouble while also making you a trusted resource for your young ones.
  • Educate your children, make sure they know the facts: teaching your children the truth about long and short-term effects of drug use can help them sort through the myth and reality displayed by the media. The more they know, the better decisions they can make when facing tough times on their own or in front of their social group.
  • Reach out if you need help: don’t be afraid to utilize resources to learn more about substance abuse or on how to talk with your children or loved ones.

For more information about how to talk to your kids about drugs visit the family support center category on our blog.  Horizon provides substance abuse counseling for teens, young adults and the entire family. If you have questions about substance abuse counseling in Western New York, please contact one of Horizon’s knowledgable counselors today at (716) 831-1800.