Facing Teen Substance Abuse Head On

The Sacramento BeeThe teen years are fraught with emotion and peer pressure. Throw in the heavy issues of sex and exposure to drugs and alcohol, and you’ve got some potentially life-altering situations arising here.

I can almost guarantee you that your teenage son or daughter will be offered alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes or other illicit drugs in his or her lifetime.

What would your teen do?

Glancing over the national statistics, three-quarters of teens will agree to give it a try. Even more disturbing is the recent trend to consume or inhale common household medications (such as cough syrups) and aerosolized chemicals.

Our teens need and crave our guidance. The time to talk about these issues is before they head down the pathway to drug use and possible addiction. Please don’t assume your child is immune. A recent poll by the University of Michigan revealed that parents grossly underestimate their own child’s alcohol or drug use.

Unfortunately, teen drug use and addiction knows no cultural or socioeconomic boundaries….click here to continue reading this week’s Dr.Mom column in The Sacramento Bee.

Are you a parent of a teen? How did you broach the topic of drugs and alcohol? Please share your thoughts…

8 Responses to Facing Teen Substance Abuse Head On
  1. DB
    October 11, 2011 | 12:11 pm

    We are in the midst of all of this right now with a 9th grader and 7th grader. No idea how it happened so fast. We try to keep the lines of communication open and make it a regular topic of conversation. I don’t know how much else you can do other than wrap them in a bubble and not allow them anywhere. :) Anxious to see what others say.

    • Melissa
      October 12, 2011 | 6:09 am

      Oh how I wish I could wrap them in a bubble…I know I can’t. It’s one of those aspects of parenting…I dread the day I have to have that talk, and yet I know it’s what I must do. Sounds like you’re doing a great job keeping the lines of communication open :)

  2. MJ
    October 11, 2011 | 1:23 pm

    I am a mommy of 3 teens all 2-3 yrs apart in age from 13-18. It seems my oldest is setting the stage for the 2 younger and it helps in getting the oldest to help set that example. I know it seems like a lot of pressure but at 18 I think it’s a responsibility that came naturally out of her just caring. She was my extra eye at school and would let me in on details of kids I had no clue about. This is how I partly monitored who my kids were with. I know this is not possible with single children so now that my oldest is in college & those extra set of eyes have moved on, I have demanded my girls get involved in extra curricular activities to keep them from boredom to stay busy. I always sit down in their environment(room, corner of bed,etc) and playfully talk to them to gain insight of who and what they are doing. In a light hearted conversation they will reveal things to you if you keep it simple. Be prepared for honesty but never show them you are freaking out or they may never open up again. You must earn their trust and respond with concern and explain to them why you are concerned about the children or event they are wanting to hang with and give them simple no’s. Let your no remain a no and never give into the begging or pleads. When my girls request to attend their friends house my first response is always, “They can come here, I will cook dinner you all could watch movies and play games!” 9x’s out of 10 if you create that fun, safe environment for your kids & their friends they will eagerly say yes. Unless they are up to no good;) You just have to go with gut instincts. When my girls insist on sleeping over a friends house I must always speak with the parents & know the child. There is no such thing as lazy parenting these days. You must always be aware, always watch for signs and always be open for that shoulder to cry on. Now wish me luck as I continue to raise these 3 teen girls;)

    • Melissa
      October 12, 2011 | 6:12 am

      You are doing a wonderful job!! I still can’t believe you have 3 teen girls?! Yes, your oldest is such a wonderful example to her sisters. Love that :)
      I love your advice about talking with them and gaining insight without freaking out. I think I need to do a better job with that right now. I can already see that sometimes I overreact when my oldest tells me something and I need to just sit back and listen. He’s only 6 so hopefully I have some time to practice!

  3. Betsy at Zen Mama
    October 11, 2011 | 9:23 pm

    Wow! What a subject. I have three boys, 20, 18 and 14. They are the reason I wrote my book and have my blog. I tried to teach them to be responsible but they (the older two) didn’t act at all like I thought. I didn’t think they would try anything. But what they thought when we started the conversation in 4th grade and what they did in high school were different things. My advice: I would assume they’re going to make many, many mistakes. Keep your cool, talk a lot, don’t yell but do have limits and certain boundaries. Know that they love you and don’t do things to make you mad on purpose. I could go on and one. I guess that’s what made me star t my blog!!
    Thanks for bringing up the point because I don’t think we start the conversation early enough.

    • Melissa
      October 12, 2011 | 6:15 am

      Oh Betsy…I’m going to need to reread your book once I hit the teen years over here. That’s for sure! Keeping your cool is probably the most sound advice and I’m sure takes a lot of restraint on our part. Thanks for your insight…now where’s the “easy” button when it comes to these parenting issues? :)

  4. sabrina clements
    November 11, 2011 | 1:23 am

    You are doing a wonderful job.. Parents will take action for avoid this… Teenagers are addicting by this… Thanks for sharing this…

  5. ronaldo
    February 28, 2012 | 5:39 am

    Teens are the targets of drug distributors because they know that they are very easy to influence. They also know that if a teen gets addicted they will not stop until they get another dose to become high. It is very sad for the parents because they are working hard for their teens but their teens aren’t doing their part.