Parents simply don't want to believe that their children will become involved in the use of drugs, prescription or illegal, but the truth is more than 43 percent of high school seniors report having used drugs at least once in their lifetime.
Is My Child Using Drugs or Alcohol?Here at the About.com Alcoholism / Substance Abuse site, we have several online self-assessment quizzes for those who are dealing with alcoholism and addiction as well as friends and family members who are or have been affected by the substance abuse of someone else.
One of those quizzes, "Is My Child Using Drugs or Alcohol?," allows parents to determine if some of the tell-tell signs of substance abuse are showing up in their home and their child's behavior. Of all the quizzes on the site, that one is the least utilized. Many parents think it's just not possible that their child is using drugs.
It Can Happen to Your TeenIf you have a teenager, he or she is vulnerable to becoming involved in substance abuse, even the highest achieving, most accomplished teens. You may think your children will always make sound decisions, but their brains are not yet fully developed, so their judgment and decision-making ability may not be what you think.
Even "good" teens who are from good homes and go to good schools can become involved in drug abuse, especially prescription drug abuse, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education. Parents need to understand the reasons why teens decide to begin using drugs.
Why Teens Use DrugsAccording to the Council, understanding why teens turn to drugs can help parents - as well as teachers, coaches and others - ask the right questions and intervene early if their is a problem. Here are some of the reasons that teens decide to abuse drugs:
- To escape or self-medicate
- Lack of self-esteem
- Risk taking, thrill seeking
- Peer pressure
Why Prescription Drugs?In recent years, teen use of illegal drugs has leveled off or declined, but there has been an alarming increase in the use of prescription drugs. According to the Council's research, these are some of the reasons that teens have turned to prescription drugs:
- There is less of a stigma
- The myth that they are safe
- They are easy to obtain
- They are easier to hide
- Parents are less likely to get angry
Parents Can Make a DifferenceThe good news is parents can do something to prevent teen drug abuse. First, you can secure your medications in your home so that they cannot be easily obtained. Keep up with your pills and properly dispose of unused medications.
Secondly, talk to your children about the risks involved in abusing drugs. Research shows that teens who are educated at home about the risks of drug use are 50% less likely to use drugs than teens who are not taught about the dangers at home.
More Information: Myths About Teen Prescription Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration "National Survey on Drug Use and Health Accessed 2010.
National Council on Patient Information and Education " A Troubling Trend: Why Teens Turn to Prescription Drugs (PDF)" November 2009.