10 Ways to Prevent Summer Drug Use
On an average summer day, around 11,000 American teenagers get started drinking alcohol for the first time, according to a booklet recently released by Narconon Arrowhead. During the rest of the year, the number is closer to 8,000. Summertime presents more situations in which teens are more often exposed to the opportunity to drink, with more free time on their hands and less adult supervision. The same lack of structure and supervision increases the risk that a teenager will start using drugs during the summer, and indeed this is borne out in the statistics provided by Narconon: Around 4,500 teens per day start smoking pot during the summer, compared with between 3,000 and 4,000 on other days. These facts and more are featured in Keeping Your Teen Drug and Alcohol Free This Summer, which is being presented by Narconon as a public service to parents who are concerned about their children’s health and safety over the summer break. The booklet includes several tips on how parents can keep their kids away from drugs and alcohol, including:
- Have the Talk About Drugs and Alcohol- Anti-drug education is everywhere, in the schools, on TV and anywhere else that kids can be reached, and for this reason, many parents overlook the importance of doing their own work on this line. What you say directly to your children about drugs and alcohol will have more of a lasting impact, and a little bit of your time can go a long way towards keeping your kids sober.
- Don’t Let Your Teen Go to Drinking Parties- You can’t predict exactly what’s going to happen every time your teen goes to a party, but there are certain warning signs that indicate that a party will have drugs or alcohol available. Make sure that your child isn’t going to parties where there will be no adult supervision, whether the host’s parents are out of town or if it’s a party out in an area such as a field, in the woods or anywhere else young people go to get away from prying eyes.
- Keep the Discussion Open and Caring- It’s too easy to get into a habit of lecturing and reprimanding your children about what they should and should not do, but when you do this you assume the role of an authority figure and not someone who your teens will feel comfortable talking about difficult subjects with. You don’t need to give up your parental role and just be their friend, but make sure that they feel that they can turn to you for help with their problems without immediate judgment and censure.
- Make Sure They Don’t Ride with Drunk/Drugged Driver- Take the time to ensure that your teens understand full well the dangers of driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, so that they will not make the potentially fatal mistake of riding with a drunk driver. Even someone who knows better than to drive under the influence himself will sometimes get in a car with a drunk driver out of peer pressure to stay with the group or in a mistaken belief that it’s okay as long as he or she is not caught breaking the law. It’s about more than just staying out of trouble; it’s about staying safe and staying alive.
- Know the Who and Where at All Times- Ask enough questions to make sure that you are always aware of who your child is with, who his or her friends are and where they are. It only takes one new friend or an afternoon or evening off the parental radar to allow a potentially serious experience with drugs or alcohol to take place.
- Point Out the Influence of the Media- Children in today’s society are to a large degree raised by the television, watching “programming” that does just what it says; the messages and themes in TV shows, movies, music, video games and other forms of media can be very effective at establishing a young person’s ideas, viewpoints and morals. Whenever possible, point out to your children when you notice that some form of entertainment in which you’re sharing is overtly or covertly promoting, glorifying or condoning substance abuse.
- Stay Connected with Your Teens - To the degree that you can maintain and build a meaningful relationship with your children, you will have a better chance of keeping them off drugs and alcohol. If they genuinely respect you and desire your approval based on a good relationship, they will be less likely to go out and do things that they know you would not like.
- Give Praise and Rewards when Due- In the effort to keep your child off drugs and alcohol, you could easily place all the focus on prevention and punishment, but this would be a mistake. If your teen is doing a good job at walking the line and staying sober, let him or her know how proud you are of this. It will not only reinforce the existing positive behaviour, but also tacitly set a high standard which your child will not want to violate at the expense of your continued appreciation and praise.
- Help them Stay Active and Happy- In many cases, a teenager who starts drinking or using drugs does so out of boredom. This is especially true during the summer, when many days just seem to have nothing better to do. If you can get your child involved in sports or some other hobby that engages his or her interest, or perhaps help him or her find a summer job, this stimulation and drive may well serve to fill the void that might otherwise be filled by substance abuse.
- Set a Good Example - This may well be the most important thing you can do. Show your children that it is possible to live a happy and rewarding life without using drugs or alcohol, that you can have fun without being high, and that success depends on giving it all you have and not handicapping yourself with drugs or alcohol. Inspired by your example, they will be more likely to follow suit. If you use drugs or abuse alcohol, they will almost certainly find out, and this negative example will make it all but a foregone conclusion that they will make the same mistakes in their own lives.
For more advice on this topic, visit the Narconon website now to download the free booklet, Keeping Your Teen Drug and Alcohol Free This Summer.alcohol, children, drinking, drugs, media, Narconon, substance abuse, summer, teens