Listen up parents! Ready for some shocking truth to come your way? I’m sure it’s no real surprise that teenage use of drugs during the summer months increases. After all, its summer break and you probably recall your own teenage parties and memories of crazy youth.
To a greater or lesser extent, you most likely have some sort of plan or strategy to keep your kids active in positive activities and supervised. Perhaps camps, lessons, ensuring another parent is supervising during any sleepovers, curfews, etc. But once those things are in place, is that where your plans end and you get back to your job, errands and the rest of the “To Do List”? If so, it may be wise to take a closer look at the actual statistics during summer months and once armed with the information, you may want to add a couple of additional steps to the drug prevention list in your household.
The Hard Facts
According the U.S. Health Officials, first-time smoking of cigarettes and marijuana and drinking of alcohol among young adults are highest during the summer. Yes, we have covered that. However, let’s take a look at actual numbers, shall we? The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration interviewed more than 230,000 young adults from 2002 to 2012. The findings? On an average June or July day, more than 5,000 teenager smoke cigarettes for the first time, compared to about 3,000- 4,000 in the other months. In addition to this, more than 11,000 teens try alcohol for the first time during the summer, while first-time alcohol use during the rest of the year is about 5,000-8,000.
In addition to first-time use of alcohol and cigarettes, other drugs like marijuana, hallucinogens and inhalants increase during the summer months as well.
What Can a Parent Do?
It’s a tough reality that once a teenager has tried smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and trying other forms of drugs, their chances of repeated use increase. And let’s not forget that some of these are gate-way drugs, opening the door to trying and using harder street drugs.
Experts recommend taking the following steps with your teenagers:
1. Keep them busy with productive activities to cut down on boredom and give them something to do. Also, it can be additionally helpful to set a goal within the activities that has worth in the eyes of your teenager. If they are taking a class, involved in a sport, or in any way active in something that interests them and contains a goal they wish to reach, they are less likely to risk throwing it away by taking part in drugs.
2. Ensure adequate supervision as much as possible. Perhaps your teenager is at an age where they no longer require a 24 hour babysitter, but they can be made to check in regularly and to not be left somewhere for hours at a time. The longer a teenager is left alone, the longer they have to try a drug without worrying about being caught. It’s also important to take note of who is doing the supervision. For example, if they are being watched over by the parent of one of their friends, have you met the parent(s)? Not all adults are equal in their level of responsibility and care for their children. Ensure you take the additional step of meeting the parents that may be watching your teen, not just in the summer, but all year round.
3. Educate your child. You may very well be told by your teenage daughter or son that they know drugs are bad and they don’t need to talk about it. Yet, sitting them down and looking at statistics and articles on drugs and asking questions to ensure their understanding on how drugs can negatively affect a person’s life is well worth the time invested. Often enough, a reminder can go a long way and if your teen has the idea that they may drink alcohol or try drugs for the first time in the near future, it may just steer them back onto the right path.
4. Come up with a rewards and penalties system. Inform them of what the consequences will be, possibly in terms of loss of privileges, if they do try drugs and alcohol. However, set up a system where the penalties will be less if they ever come clean on any alcohol or drug use. This ensures that you keep it safe enough for your teenager to trust that they can always talk to you about the subject and get help and guidance when needed. Establish a rewards system where they will earn something of value to them if they say no to drugs and continue to do so despite any possible peer pressure.
If you need any additional information on the subject of teenage drug use during the summer months, advice or articles to share with your teen, please narcononcenter.com.
We offer free drug education and prevention services as well as effective rehabilitation for all types of drug or alcohol addiction problems.