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Teenage Alcohol and Drug Use: Don’t Be Too Quick to Assume

Does your child drink alcohol? Has your child smoked pot? Turns out, “no” is the answer from most parents. When the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital polled parents, 90% said their child doesn’t drink. And 95% said they don’t smoke marijuana. The parents did believe that, in general, teens are using alcohol and drugs, just not their teens. They also guessed that more than half of 10th-graders drink, just not their 10th-grader. And how did their version of the truth compete with the actual truth? According to a survey of about 420 public and private schools, 52% of 10th-graders reported drinking alcohol in the last year and 28% reported they used marijuana in the last year. The bottom line: chances are, your child has experimented. And it is very possible they are at risk for substance abuse.

What You Can Do

Facing substance abuse is difficult, especially when it involves your child. The best thing you can do is not assume your child isn’t using. In fact, you should assume your child has tried it. Communicate to your child your policies on drinking and using drugs. Rather than tell them, be the example. The conversations should begin early—earlier than you think! By creating a foundation of knowledge, you’ll arm your child with what they need to withstand peer pressure. One of the best ways to keep your child from using is by giving them an “out.” For example, let them know that if you suspect they are using, you will have them tested. And if the test comes back positive, there will be consequences. So the next time they are with friends who are pressuring them, they’ll tell their friends they can’t because they get tested—and if it came back positive, they’d lose their car. If you do suspect they are using, take immediate action. Get them the support they need from a drug addiction rehab. If you catch them using, it’s very unlikely that was the first and only time. By addressing it as soon as possible, you’re giving them the best chance they have at living a clean and healthy life. (Photo via)

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