It’s hard to imagine going through multiple near death experiences, let alone surviving them, but Brianna had done just that. She had begun taking marijuana at the tender age of fifteen and experienced her first overdose just two years later. She overdosed again twice, with the second time almost killing her after she collapsed and her heart stopped beating.
She’s doing fine these days and is living free from Xanax and heroin, but not many have been as lucky. And it isn’t easy for parents and friends to keep teens from getting into drugs because they are just too accessible. In fact, in a survey among teens, 60 percent said that drugs were being sold, used or kept at their school. In a separate 2012 survey, it was found that 15 percent of those teens surveyed said that they had access to prescription drugs and only 35 percent thought it was risky to be taking them regularly.
The Statistics of Teen Drug Abuse
The statistics are alarming, and what’s worse is that many parents don’t know how to talk to their teens about drug abuse or even recognize the symptoms. Simply having regular conversations with your teen about drugs and their effects can reduce the likelihood that they will end up using it by 42%. However only a quarter of the teens interviewed in a survey said that they had such conversations. So how do you go about talking to your teen about drugs?
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How to Talk to Your Teens to Prevent Drug Abuse
The first thing you want to avoid is a long, drawn out lecture. It’s the best way to tune them out and get them soured on talking about drugs with you. Instead, you can let them talk about what they think of drugs and their abuse. Try to get them to make statements rather than just answer your questions and observe any nonverbal cues while you listen to them.
Another thing to avoid is the typical scare tactics about becoming dependent on drugs, going to jail, or even dying from substance abuse. Unfortunately, too many television programs, movies, websites and songs have glamorized drug use to a point where many teens are apathetic about the issue at best. Instead, discuss how drug abuse can destroy the things they care about. If your teen is involved in a sports program at school, such as football or basketball, explain how it might impact how well they perform. If you give your teen driving privileges, tell them how you couldn’t possibly in your right judgment allow them to drive if they are constantly under the effects of drugs. Explain how they can easily lose doing the things they love if they ever decide to abuse drugs.
One thing that is unavoidable is peer pressure, and your teen might not necessarily want to do drugs, but might not know how to refuse a peer that pressures them into it either. If your teen is at a loss for how to refuse their peers when it comes to drug abuse, you can help them by discussing simple ways to say “no”. With as many teens as there are that are using drugs, this shouldn’t be overlooked.
Finally, you can even talk about your own abuse, if you had ever taken drugs in the past. A lot of former users and abusers are still ashamed about ever having used drugs and wouldn’t consider talking about it to their kids, but this is important, especially if they respect you and your opinion holds a lot of weight with them. Even if you aren’t as close as you might like to be with your teen, simply discussing an intimate and secret detail of your life might lead to newfound respect for you. Either way, it opens doors for them so they can start asking even more questions that you might discuss the subject of drug abuse with them even more.
At this stage of their life, teens long for their independence, and even though you should give it to them to some extent, that doesn’t mean you should start leaving them alone. Instead, it is important that you give them their independence while still holding them accountable for their actions. Drugs are more accessible than ever and can even be present in your own household in the form of alcohol and prescription drugs. Instead of being afraid to bring the subject of drugs in their head, you need to make sure they know what your expectations are of them as adults and trust in their moral compass to do the rest of the work.