Every drug dependency starts with a question:
Do you want to try it?
Teenagers may hear this at a party, at school, with a group of friends, or within their own heads when they come across illicit or prescription drugs. Saying no to drugs has always been an important topic for teens, but many parents don’t know how to get the point across effectively in a way that translates to real-life situations.
Easily Accessible Drugs: Today’s Reality
Assuming your teenager will never be in a situation where he or she has to make the conscious decision to say no to drugs is unreasonable. Approximately 50% of high school students say they can obtain marijuana easily, and 40%–66% of high school seniors say the same about cocaine. About 40% of high schoolers say school is the easiest place to obtain drugs. This is a reality today. No matter how hard you try, your teen can find drugs if he or she wants to.
Provide a Foundation of Anti-Drug Use
Many teenagers believe that they know more than you when it comes to drug use. Teenagers want to try things for themselves, leading them to make poor decisions when it comes to drugs. Inform your teen of the truth about drugs and arm him or her with knowledge. Teach your teen the negative consequences of dependency early on, and distinguish between myths and facts:
4 Facts and Myths About Teens Drug Use
Myth: “Peer pressure won’t affect me”
Fact: The single greatest predictor of marijuana use is use by the adolescent’s best friend. Only a firm foundation of anti-drug teachings can help a teen withstand peer pressure.
Myth: “Alcohol and cigarettes aren’t gateway substances”
Fact: Many teenagers at the greatest risk for developing drug dependencies use alcohol and cigarettes. Teens who smoke cigarettes are 10 times more likely to abuse marijuana.
Myth: “Drugs won’t hurt me”
Fact: Drugs are scientifically proven to cause medical, psychiatric, legal, and social problems. Marijuana can lead to problems in school, including dropping out, and withdrawal from social activities.
Myth: “Drugs don’t affect driving”
Fact: Car accidents related to drugs and alcohol are the number one killer of 15- to 24-year-olds.
Teaching your child the truth about these substances is the first step in promoting a drug-free way of life. Communicate these lessons clearly with your teenager, emphasizing the importance of being in control of behavior and life.
Make the Consequences Clear
Your teen needs to understand the immense physical, mental, emotional, and psychosocial repercussions of drug use. Teenagers are often under the impression that drugs won’t hurt them, or they’ll argue that all-natural substances like marijuana can’t possibly do damage. This couldn’t be further from the truth. All drugs—even marijuana—can affect the brain and behavioral patterns, resulting in a chain reaction of negative consequences across virtually every aspect of your teenager’s life.
Teach Your Teen How to Say No
Often, the only reason a teenager tries drugs is because he or she doesn’t know how to say no to peers. Give your teen ways to refuse drugs in real-life situations. One of the best ways to say no to drugs is to make up an excuse. Examples include saying you can’t stay or saying the drug makes you sick.
If your teen wants to say no and help others do the same, he or she can explain to friends the dangers of drugs with simple expressions such as:
- “Why would you do that to yourself?”
- “You’re crazy!”
- “That drug is so bad for you.”
- “You can go ahead and ruin your life—I’m not ruining mine.”
Or your teen can simply be honest. Real friends don’t put each other in these situations, and your teenager should realize this. Teens can say they aren’t into a drug, that they want to do more with their life, and that they’re smart enough to know that doing drugs is a terrible idea. No matter how your teen decides to say no, make sure he or she can get the words out when needed.
Use Your Available Resources
For help communicating with your teenager about drugs, call on of our specialized therapist at Family First Intervention. We offer confidential help with drug and alcohol abuse for you and your teenager. We believe that intervention is about families changing their habits and behaviors to better help a loved one achieve recovery.
If your teen is in need of an intervention, click below and see if we service your area.