You’ve already had “the talk” about drugs, but the blank stare you got in return wasn’t enough to inspire confidence.
And as each day passes, more young lives are lost to overdose.
Let’s not sugarcoat this: It’s terrifying to be a parent during the worst drug crisis this country has ever seen. Unfortunately, one chat isn’t enough to keep your teen safe from alcohol and addiction. Not today.
The high school overdose epidemic
You know the truth without hearing the statistics. More high schoolers are overdosing than ever before. It’s all over the news and it fills our Facebook feeds.
The National Center for Health Statistics confirms the nightmares we’ve been living. After seven years of decline, overdose deaths jumped by 19 percent in 2015. These are children whose lives were taken from them before they even had a chance to get started.
Our wakeup call is here and now.
And now that you’re rightly terrified, it’s time for a bit of good news.
A glimmer of hope in a desperate drug crisis
Although we are most certainly in the midst of a drug crisis, fewer teens are using drugs than ever before, according to a survey by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Still, it’s not a time to rest on our laurels. The 2016 Monitoring the Future survey tells us that about 20% of high school seniors think it would be easy to get their hands on heroin or crack. This statistic helps us understand why overdose deaths are up while drug use is down.
Opioids and other drugs are highly available in our society and our kids know it.
Twenty-eight percent of seniors think they’d have an easy time getting LSD. And 81% of this group is confident in their ability to score marijuana.
How to Keep Your Teens Safe from Alcohol and Addiction
Today, we have to be more diligent and arm our children with knowledge that will keep them safe. We can’t make decisions for them, so we have to make sure they’re ready to make sound decisions for themselves. Here are some tips to keep your kids safe from alcohol and addiction.
Give them the facts
If you shield your kids from the harsh and sometimes fatal reality of drug addiction, what will they learn about drugs? If your parents didn’t teach you, where and what did you learn?
Most likely, your kids will learn about drugs from school programs and their friends. The latter will hold more weight.
But their friends probably aren’t going to pull out pie charts and statistics about how many teens have overdosed.
Instead, they’ll probably glorify drug use… as kids tend to do.
Talk to your kids about what’s going on in the world and how the body becomes physically addicted without your consent. It’s all too easy to lose control.
Take it a step further and watch the Netflix series Dope with them. This series offers a peek into the life of a drug addict. Spoiler alert: It’s not glamorous.
Keep communication open
Let your kids know that they can talk to you about anything. Even if they’ve tried drugs, they can tell you and you won’t get mad. It’s important that your children know it’s safe to talk to you about drugs.
If they experiment and find themselves in trouble, you’re the best person to help. Not only can you get them safely out of a bad situation but you can talk to them about their decisions.
Help them find healthy outlets for stress
Some kids start using drugs with good intentions. They want to perform well in school, so they use Ritalin or Adderall. But study drugs are dangerous, too.
Other kids turn to drugs to self-medicate anxiety or depression, not knowing that drugs will only make these conditions worse.
If your children understand how to handle stress in a healthy way, they’re less likely to self-medicate. Get them involved in meditation and yoga, if possible, to help strengthen their minds.
Set a good example
Kids learn by example more than lecture, so be sure you’re setting a good one. Let them see that you have a healthy relationship with alcohol and that you avoid drugs.
Drugs are scary, but alcoholism can be even scarier.
Once alcohol takes hold, it has a strong grip. Some of its physical withdrawal symptoms are worse than heavy drugs like heroin or crack. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include seizures, hallucinations, erratic behavior and delirium tremors (DTs), which can be fatal.
Bottom line: Drugs are scary and so is alcohol. Set a good example by avoiding drugs and drinking alcohol in moderation.
Look for signs of drug use or addiction
Even if you do everything right, your child has free will and may decide to use drugs. This is why it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of drug abuse.
Look for any sudden behavioral changes, such as extreme moodiness, depression, hyperactivity or isolation. Although many of these things can be associated with hormonal changes that are normal in teens, they are likely to be sudden and extreme with drug abuse.
If you think your child is using drugs, talk to him or her right away. If that doesn’t get you anywhere, consider drug testing and counseling for your child. Early intervention is key to overcoming addiction at any age.
Armed with a little diligence and information, we can fight to keep our teens safe from alcohol and drug addiction.