Just as adults may develop substance use disorder (SUD) due to a wide range of factors such as genetics, trauma, stress, and mental health issues, teens are susceptible to addiction for the same reasons. Moreover, teens are more prone to experiment with risky activities. They are also under more peer pressure than adults.
Also, teens are under the influence of social media, a place where negative influences affect their thoughts and moods. Media representation of substance use can expose and normalize drug use. This puts teens at risk of using from an early age. When the accessibility of drugs and alcohol in the community is high, teens are preconditioned to have a higher chance of using substances.
Teen substance use is a significant issue in society today. For all these reasons and more, teens are especially vulnerable to becoming addicted after using drugs recreationally or fitting in. Luckily, there are some things parents can do to be aware of their teens’ access to and use of addictive substances.
Signs Parents Should Look Out For
It can be challenging for parents to distinguish between the normal moody shifts of adolescent transition and the red flags of SUD. The more time parents spend with their teens, the easier it can become for them to tell the differences. Common warning signs may include:
- Changes in physical appearance like bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, flushed or pale skin, etc.
- A decline in academic performance
- Self-isolation or withdrawal from family members
- Secretive behaviors, lies, and deception
- Taking money or valuables from the home
- Abrupt shifts in temperament
If parents have been absent from their children’s lives, they could miss many of these red flags or dismiss them as normal teenage moodiness. Therefore, monitoring grounded in care is critical for protecting one’s children. Parents should be familiar with their teens’ whereabouts, get to know their friends, and set boundaries regarding social activities.
Safeguarding the Home to Prevent Substance Use
Since statistics show that most teens who misuse prescription drugs get them from family members, parents must safeguard the home to prevent this drug abuse. Those who use prescription drugs should store them in a place that is out of reach for children and teens. Keep track of how many pills are in each pack. Remember the date you need a refill. Noticing missing pills or needing more frequent refills can be red flags. When dealing with unused prescription drugs, do not throw them in the trash, but rather flush them down the toilet. Also, remove the label from the bottle before disposing of it to prevent illegal refills.
Families can also prevent alcohol abuse by either not having alcohol in the house or storing it somewhere teens cannot access it. Equally important, parents should get to know their teen’s friends and their families and encourage them to practice safety with substances.
How Should Parents Monitor Their Teens’ Social Activities?
As teens grow into a more social and independent stage, parents must monitor them diligently. This should be done out of care and love, not mistrust. Teens can be sensitive to parents who try to invade or take over their lives, so parents must start by connecting with their teens before they bring up areas of concern.
Parents should know where their teen is at all times. This includes physical whereabouts and virtual activities. There should be limits on when and how they can use the internet.
Parents should be involved with their teen’s friends and parents and get together with other families to know more about their health and habits. Always keep communication channels open so teens can tell their parents about their social activities and places where substance use might become prevalent. The entire family can discuss coping strategies openly.
For adolescents and teens, boredom can be a major factor that leads them to experiment and take risks. Parents can encourage their teens to enroll in sports, arts, clubs, and other programs to enrich their social life.
Parents must live healthy and fun-filled lives themselves. They are role models to their teens regarding healthy life habits. Integrate regular exercise, healthy food, and relaxation into the entire family regimen. Before teens leave home for college, parents must coach them to live a balanced life.
When Teens Do Not Cooperate With Parental Monitoring
Some teenagers may feel their parents are invading their privacy or that they do not trust them. But, again, parents should monitor and get involved from a place of love rather than suspicion or worry. Of course, teens need their parents to trust them and respect their autonomy, but they should also recognize their parents’ care and respect their greater life experience.
Teens need space to make their own decisions. However, there is a fine line between respecting that space and not doing parental diligence. Parents should always be aware of where risks may come from and protect their children against these potential risks. Building and maintaining trust and two-way communication is always the relational foundation. Family therapy may be necessary to help families achieve this goal.
Parents play a huge role in influencing their children’s decisions about drugs and alcohol. As preventative measures, parents should invest time hanging out with and monitoring their children’s activities, especially when they approach their teenage years. Laguna Shores Recovery helps families learn effective ways to protect their children from the harmful effects of addiction. Our experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff have helped many families with teens and adolescents who struggle with substance addiction. Our residential rehab and family therapy programs provide the best support for young people’s recovery. We will walk alongside you or your loved one to offer support and guidance. For more information, call (954) 329-1118.