How to Keep Teens Safe From Drug Abuse as School Year Ends

two teen age girls

From your point of view as a parent, it probably seems like the school year just started. But in the eyes of your teenaged children, it has been an eternity since the year began, and the last day of school cannot come any sooner. The older that kids get, the more likely they are to become consumed by the boredom and ennui of the end of the school year. This is especially true of 12th graders who more often than not develop a case of “senioritis,” the “who cares?” attitude that characterizes many students who are coming into the final stretch of their time in school and who would rather do anything than study.

The bottom line is that the last part of the school year is a time when boredom and restlessness are endemic in the hallways and classrooms of the typical high school, and in many cases, this leads to higher rates of drug use.

According to the annual Monitoring the Future survey, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 7% of 8th graders in the U.S. admitted to having used marijuana in the past month in 2013, while this figure increased to 18% among 10th graders and 22.7% of 12th graders. In other words, by the time your child is a high school senior, there is a greater than one in five chance that he or she will be using drugs.

Keeping Your Child Free from Drugs

What can you do to keep your children from abusing drugs during this time of year? The easiest and perhaps most effective thing that you can do is to take the time to have a direct and honest conversation. Too many parents rely on the schools or the media to promote a drug-free message to their children, but this is a serious mistake, for the very same reason why parents rely on these voices, namely that they are so ubiquitous.

Teens are inundated with anti-drug messages, to the point where it often becomes background noise that they just tune out. It’s the direct, face-to-face communication that really makes a difference. If you don’t do it now, the next person who talks to them directly about using drugs may be a friend or acquaintance offering them a hit at a party; why wait to have the talk?

Prescription Drug Abuse Among High School Students

young woman taking prescription pills

Another front in the fight against drug use among teenagers is the battle against prescription drug abuse. If your child is taking prescription medication for anxiety, pain or ADHD, you need to watch over the situation like a hawk to make sure that he or she is not taking more than the prescribed dose. As the year-end approaches, not all students get senioritis. Others become overwhelmed with stress over their performance on final exams and trying to get accepted to a good college. Some students turn to prescription medications as a way to boost their academic performance or to relieve the pressure, such as by taking a friend’s Adderall or by using anti-anxiety medications to weather the storm of preparing for finals.

Realize that many of the most common prescription drugs are just as powerful and as potentially addictive as many street drugs, and they are not even vaguely safe to use without careful supervision, if then. Make sure that your child knows the risks associated with prescription drug abuse, and ideally keep the medications under your control rather than leaving it up to the judgment of your child. With a proactive approach, you can greatly reduce the chances of your child using drugs at the end of the school year and becoming another statistic.


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AUTHOR

Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.