Teenagers tend to try everything new and adventurous just to satisfy their curiosity and to show others that they are not just teenagers but little-grownup-men and women. They will also embark on dangerous endeavors just to get acceptance and fit in with their peers. It is during these times that they may try drugs for pleasure and end up becoming addicted to them. It is important for a parent to keep an eagle’s eye on their teen’s activities and involvement with their peers to guard them against drug abuse.
Drugs which are used for medical purposes such as sedative cough syrups, tranquilizers and painkillers when used for pleasure come under the category of drug abuse. Other substances that people use as ecstasy drugs include marijuana, cocaine, hashish etc.
Many times teens will explore drugs because they may not be aware of the risks factors attached to them. They will have varied reasons for trying drugs, such as:
- Feel grown up and important
- To show that they are independent and can decide for themselves
- Satisfy their curiosity about in what way a drug affects their mind?
- To get out of boredom
- To shift focus from the problems they may be facing
- Fit in with a group of peers.
Identifying factors leading to drug use by teenagers
Parents must try and bond with their children from an early age. As they turn into teenagers they will naturally show a little bit of aloofness in certain matters. Respecting their space parents should always keep everything open to discussion with them.
They should be able to identify trouble times for their teenagers and be there to support them and show a workable way out. Many of these troubled times can be avoided if the parents are supportive of their child. Their absence will create a vacuum that will get filled by advice from the teenager’s friends and peers, his own reasoning and may be by use of Drugs.
Some trouble times that may expose a teenager to drug use are identified here for you:
Psychological factors: Teenage is a time when a teen is neither an adult nor a child. He tries hard to fit in with other teenagers and there is an identity crisis. If a parent finds their child to be miserable and trying hard to change his/her appearance and ways to be part of a group, it’s time for them to support them and keep an eye open to see if the child is looking for alone times, as they might be looking for it to indulge in drugs.
Bullying at school/home: bullying at school or by a sibling or parent at home can put a lot of emotional pressure on a child and he may revert to find escape through use of drugs.
Not being able to reach academic/extra-curricular goals: lagging behind their classmates in academic achievement or in the extra-curricular activities may lower their self-esteem and get them depressed triggering an urge to find satisfaction through drugs or alcohol.
Being in a company of friends who use drugs: if their friends are into using drugs, there is a very high chance that they too will try to experiment with the drug at least once. It is upon a parent to talk to their child about adverse effects of drugs and make sure that the child understands that he needs to stay away from it.
An environment of acceptance for drugs/alcohol in community, school or home: If your community or your own home has a higher tolerance for drugs and alcohol, the environment will be conducive for a teen to experiment with the drugs. As a parent you should not keep drugs in your home that can be used for pleasure and neither should you use them in front of your kids. Similarly, if you move in such a community let your child be aware of the harmful effects of drugs and always let them know that you personally don’t identify with their practice. If the environment at school is less strict with drugs and you cannot change your child’s school then keep continuous counseling on for your child on dangers of drug use and how to stay safe from it.
How to reduce the risk of drug abuse?
- As a parent, you could be role model for your teenager in this matter. Keep your home drug free. Also, talk to your children about harms of drugs often citing examples from real life of people suffering due to drugs abuse.
- Have a strong bond with your child and remain open for discussion on any matter that may disturb them. Do not provide them with an opportunity to look for other ways out.
- Discuss risks associated with drugs use with your children so that they may understand that a relief for time being can become a trouble for a lifetime.
- Appreciate your teenager for their big and small accomplishments or just for who they are. Help them build a high self-esteem that keeps them satisfied and away from drugs.
- If the teenager is being bullied at home or school moves in to solve the matter. Be supportive. Help your child develop enough self-confidence to deal with Bullyism by himself instead of falling a prey to it. If he is being bullied by a parent then counseling help should be sought for that parent and the child should be kept safe from them. All the while watch out that the child does not opt for an easy escape by taking to drugs.
- If the school is less strict on drugs, then try to relocate your child to a better school with tougher drug rules.
- If you can, then move out of the community that tolerates drugs.
- Plan activities with your teenager which you two can do together and which are of much interest to him, minimizing the risks of him being alone too often. This will keep their minds occupied and they will not fall into temptations of the wrong kind.
If at any point you find your child has indulged in drugs, try to find why and how it happened, instead of coming out strong on the child. Be supportive and talk him out of it. If that does not work then seek help from a rehabilitation center for drug abuse and help your child become drug-free.