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Teen Substance Abuse: How You Can Get Involved & Help Your Child: Drug Prevention Study

Teen Substance Abuse: How You Can Get Involved and Help Your Child

Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

Listen To This Article.

Substance abuse is a serious problem, more so if it is teenagers who are involved. Studies have found that people who abuse illicit drugs when they are teenagers are at greater risk of developing an addiction upon reaching adulthood. Furthermore, mind-altering substances like drugs and alcohol are known to have long-term effects on the structure and functions of a teen’s brain.

Effects of Drugs on a Teenager’s Brain.

A teen’s brain is still developing, and many studies have uncovered a host of negative, long-term effects of drugs on its processes. A Journal of Clinical Psychiatry study found that teenagers who stopped using cannabis even for just a week experienced an improvement in their memory and verbal learning.

Another study conducted by Yale University scientists explored the effects of cocaine on the brain. The study found that, after consuming cocaine for the first time, a teen’s brain alters its shape and synapses to protect itself from the drug. This defensive reaction involves integrin beta 1, which is a gene involved in the development of the nervous system.

Substance abuse is a complex problem that usually requires a multilayered solution. As a parent, however, much of the responsibility is in your hands as your child’s guardian. Here are four effective strategies you can do to become more involved as a parent and prevent your child from abusing drugs.

Teen Substance Abuse: How You Can Get Involved and Help Your Child

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Cultivate a Healthy Home Life.

The teenage years are notorious for being an overwhelming time in a person’s life. Teens need to navigate many challenges from physical changes to various pressures in their school and personal lives. Teenagers can easily feel alienated and confused especially if they do not have a reliable support system.

It is every parent’s responsibility to make sure their child feels safe and secure in their home. Teens who feel insecure and isolated are more vulnerable to peer pressure. They may also turn to harmful habits like drinking, abusing drugs, and joining gangs as a means to cope with what they are feeling.

Cultivating a healthy home environment often begins with simple and healthy habits. Here are some that you can start practicing right away:

>>> Prioritize eating together as a family at least once a day.

>>> Learn to communicate through your child’s love language.

>>> Focus on brainstorming solutions instead of making your child feel guilty or insecure.

>>> Resolve conflicts in a calm and respectful manner.

>>> Learn to listen to your child more and speak less.

>>> Practice simple and fun family traditions like trivia and game nights on weekends.

Practice Honest and Open Communication.

Healthy communication within family members does not happen overnight. It takes daily practice and devotion to be intentional in the way you interact with your child. Your teenager needs to be able to feel that you love them, and oftentimes, you can do this simply by being present and attentive.

Here are some simple habits you can cultivate to become a more attentive parent:

>>> When they have something to say, listen without criticizing or giving your opinion.

>>> Treat your child with respect. Just because they are younger than you does not mean you can belittle or make them feel inferior.

>>> If you sense that a discussion is about to get heated, take time to cool your heads. Tell your child calmly that you can discuss it when both of you are in a calmer state of mind.

>>> When talking to your child, pay attention to their body language. Nonverbal cues are just as important as verbal ones are.

Teen Substance Abuse: How You Can Get Involved and Help Your Child

Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

Get to Know Their Friends.

Many teenagers prefer the company and advice of their friends more than those of their family. This is often a hard truth that parents have trouble coming to terms with. Instead of feeling resentful toward your child’s friends and potentially creating a gap in your relationship, try to get to know their social circle.

The saying “Birds of a feather flock together” is certainly very relevant to teenagers. So if you want to become involved in your child’s life, you will need to build a relationship with their friends too.

One way you can build a relationship with your child and their friends is by showing genuine interest in their hobbies. For example, if your child enjoys watching or playing sports, buy tickets so you two, together with their friends, can watch their favorite team play. If your child loves to cosplay, spend an afternoon with them and their friends shopping at a costume shop for the next cosplay event.

Know the Signs of Drug Use.

Keep in mind that different drugs have different physical and psychological effects. People who abuse stimulants like cocaine and marijuana will exhibit signs different from those who abuse downers, like morphine.

The following are some potential signs of drug abuse. Although not everyone who has these symptoms may be using illicit substances, many drug abusers exhibit several of these behavioral and physical changes:

>>> Abrupt negative changes in school performance.

>>> No longer showing interest or enjoyment in things that used to be engaging to them.

>>> Secretive and suspicious behavior.

>>> Unusual lethargy or tiredness.

>>> Insomnia or irregular sleeping patterns.

>>> Haggard appearance due to sleeplessness.

>>> Bloodshot eyes.

>>> Poor hygiene.

>>> Hanging out with people who are known to use, abuse, or deal drugs.

>>> Mood swings.

Knowing what signs to look out for is only the first step in a critical process. If you notice these signs and other red flags that can indicate that your teenager may be abusing drugs, immediately seek help from rehab centers or counselors specializing in substance abuse in teens.

Substance abuse is a widespread problem that is, unfortunately, present even in schools. Be aware of the professional groups that can help you with this problem. Know how it may be possible for teens to have access to substances like marijuana, which is legal in certain states. Take your role as your child’s parent seriously as this is the best way you can protect them from this kind of danger.



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