Parenting Parenting Tips Teenagers

Parenting Tips: Catching and Preventing Adolescent Substance Abuse

There are few things that scare me as a parent. One of those scary things is the thought of one of my kids doing drugs. Here are some parenting tips to help catch and prevent drug abuse.

by Jennifer Shakeel

Some troubled teens turn to drugs - will this happen to your teen?
Some troubled teens turn to drugs - will this happen to your teen?

There are few things that scare me as a parent. One of those scary things is the thought of one of my kids doing drugs then compound that with the fact that it could slip under my nose. We all want to sit there and think that our children wouldn’t do something like that. I urge you to take alook at the current national statistics on Adolescent drug abuse, all of which can be found here  You will be shocked at what you see. You will be even more shocked to find out that your own child has tried or is friends with someone that has tried an illicit substance.
The goal of this week’s tips then is to offer you ways to spot drug/substance use and how to stop it from occurring at all or again.

Tip One: Know the Signs of Drug Abuse

It is difficult to spot something if you don’t know what it is you are looking for. So I want to give you 14 signs that your child is using drugs. Now keep in mind that they do not have to exhibit ALL of these signs, even one or two should be enough for you to be concerned. Here they are:

• Abnormal sustained fatigue or bursts of energy
• Drastic change in mood with no rhythm or reason to it.
• Change in sleep or appetite patterns
• Decline in personal hygiene
• Withdrawal from family activities or decline in adherence to family rules
• Change in friends or loss of interest in typical activities
• Decline in school performance and/or attendance
• Loss of job or irresponsibility during work that is pointed out
• Aggressive behavior
• Unaccounted for blocks of time
• Being caught in lies about whereabouts or events
• Unexplained loss of money or possessions
• Finding drug paraphernalia or noticing a lot of material with drug references
• Legal involvement

Tip Two: Get Involved with Your Child

Look as far as I am concerned the number one reason as to why kids get involved with drugs is that they figure their parents don’t care. It may be harsh to hear and I am sure that in more than half of the cases it isn’t even true. But I have noticed that parents today are terrible at being involved with their kids. Talk to them, know what they are doing, get to know their friends, find out what your child is interested in. Don’t try to be their best friend, they have that already… be there parent and let them know.

Tip Three: Tell Your Child What You Expect

Look part of being a kid is wanting to live up to your parent’s expectations of you. Or I should say, knowing that they have expectations for you. When parents talk to their kids and let them know what behaviors and goals are expected kids tend to strive to achieve those things. Talk to your kids.

Tip Four: Know Their Friends

I stated above know who your child is friends with. My husband and I have intervened on our daughters behalf twice with friends that we did not think were suitable for her to be hanging around with. You don’t want to invite negative influences around your children and while they may not be happy with you at first, they will see the light. At least our daughter did.

Tip Five: Be an apparent Parent

Your child has enough friends; they don’t need you to be their friend. Save that for when they are adults and you want to have a good relationship with them. The only way to get to that point is for you to be a parent today and let them know that you are there as their parent. You can be cool, you can be easy to talk to but at the end of the day they need to know that you are still mom and dad and that what you say goes and if they break rules there is heck to pay for it.

Tip Six: Talk About Drug Use with Your Kids

For some reason that often escapes me, parents are afraid to talk to their kids about topics such as drug use and sex. There is something in the parental head that tells them, “If I talk to them about it then they are going to want to do it,” ummm… no you are wrong. Actually you not talking to them about it is going to make them more inclined to do it. Talk to your kids, please, and when you do talk to them like they are intelligent, what they know may surprise you.

Tip Seven: Listen to Your Kids

Don’t just listen, listen to them and don’t interrupt them. Don’t say that “you know,” don’t try to finish their thoughts for them. Let them talk and pay attention to what they are saying.

Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience.  As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2009 All Rights Reserved


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  • I agree with everything you wrote here, and it’s so important for parents not to bury their heads in the sand. I spoke recently to a parents’ group and they thought their biggest issues were if their kids were in all advanced classes and getting “A+” grades, but the larger dangers were the drugs and alcohol.

    Thanks for writing such a good post!

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