Teens experiment with drugs for many reasons.
It could be for fun, curiosity, socializing, boredom, being different from others, relaxation or from pressure from their friends. The drugs that teenagers commonly use are tobacco and cannabis (also known as marijuana, pot, or hash). According to statistics that have been released by and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (SAMHSA) reports, cannabis (pot) is the most favored illicit drug around, and one out of five teens have tried marijuana / cannabis at least once.
Many youngsters usually try drugs during some stage in their life, with statistics showing that as many as nearly 45% are tempted to dabble in illicit drugs during their teens. Although there is no guarantee that your teen will never do drugs, there are however many methods to reduce that possibility.
Parents worry about their child becoming dependent on illegal drugs such as speed, ecstasy, acid, cocaine and heroin. However, they fail to understand that they face a bigger threat in the use of drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. Parents should understand that adolescence is a period of experimentation despite the best of parenting skills. However, parents can always reduce the risk of their teen doing drugs with some clever strategies.
Some tips include
- Encourage a trusting and open relationship with your teen from an early age.
- Try to model an appropriate conduct such as moderate drinking, no tobacco, and no illicit drugs.
- Educate them frankly on the dangers that accompany drugs.
- Establish guidelines on what is acceptable and what is not, viz., alcohol, and drugs.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, good food, and sports.
- Encourage social behavior and allow your teen more than one friend circle.
- Help them develop responsibility and good decision-making skills from a very young age
- Despite the above and should they still get into the drug cycle, check for these warning signs;
- Emotional – sudden personality changes, low self worth, mood swings, gets easily irritable, irresponsible behavior, depression and a general lack of interest in activities.
- Physical – Tired, glazed and bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, sudden weight loss, change in appetite, tremors, impaired co-ordination, and an irritable cough.
- School – Reduced interest in school activities, drop in grades, disciplinary problems, unexplained absenteeism, and gets into fights easily.
- Family- Withdrawal from family members, getting into unwarranted arguments, breaking of family rules and may steal money.
- Social – New social circle, friends who are not interested in school and home activities, change in dress code, grooming, hobbies, unusual smell in body and breath, and even problems with the law
Warning Signs of Abused Drugs
- Marijuana/ Cannabis/ Pot - glazed bloodshot eyes, loss of interest, weight loss or gain, sleepiness, depression, lack of interest, loud laughter and loud voice while talking.
- Depressants (Xanax, GHB, Valium) - dilated pupils, poor judgment, difficulty in concentrating, drunk like state, clumsiness, tremor, poor judgment, and sleepy state.
- Stimulants (amphetamines, cocaine) - euphoria, dilated pupils, anxiety, hyperactivity, irritability, excessive talking, depression, excessive sleeping at odd times, going long periods without eating or sleeping, dry mouth and weight loss.
- Inhalants (aerosols, glues, vapors) – anxiety, watery eyes, nose secretions, rashes around the nose and mouth, impaired vision or memory, nausea and headache, drowsiness and an appearance of intoxication, poor muscle control, irritability and presence of lots of aerosol cans in the trash.
- Hallucinogens (PCP, LSD) – bizarre behavior, paranoia, dilated pupils, aggression, mood swings, hallucinations, lonely, detached, egoistic, confused and slurred speech.
- Heroin – needle marks, sweating, coughing, vomiting, sleeping at odd times, sniffling, contracted pupils, twitching, no response of pupils to light and a loss of appetite.
If you suspect your teen is using drugs:
- Don’t panic or react on your first impulse – be calm and think it over.
- Don’t snoop or search your teen’s room for any evidence, especially without their knowledge.
- After establishing the facts, discuss the issue calmly with your teen when you both are relaxed.
- If your teen acknowledges that they are doing drugs, don’t issue an ultimatum, but instead try to help.
- They might need help and not a lecture on the risks of drug usage.
- Nonetheless, if they are very young and are new users, try and educate them.
- There is the risk that an older teen may not stop using the drug, despite what you say.
- Discuss the possibility of seeking professional help.
- If your teen is in trouble with the law, help them but be stern that they may have to pay for any penalties and fines levied.
- Lay down the rules. Your teen should be aware that doing drugs comes with specific consequences.
- Monitor your teenager’s activity and whom she hangs out with.
- Routine check for potential hiding places. Common places are between books on a shelf, backpacks, make-up cases. Your teen must be clearly aware that this is the consequence for them using drugs.
- Introduce them to new social activities, hobbies, interests, and clubs.
The below information are the results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (SAMHSA) reports.
Perceived Need for and Effort Made to Receive Specialty Treatment among Persons Aged 12 or Older Needing But Not Receiving Treatment for Illicit Drug or Alcohol Use: 2009
The good side is that with the right counseling and treatment and proper support, you can thwart the disruptive effects that the drug has on your teen. The first obstacle for your teen is that they should realize that they have a drug problem and that they need help.
Seeking counseling will be the best thing that has happened to them...