Summer is a season when teens look forward to more time with friends, family and loved ones. School is out and excess free time abounds as young people anticipate warm summer days having fun without obligations of school. While a break from academics can be welcomed by teens, studies demonstrate an increase in teen drug use during the months of June and July as teens are more likely to begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Approximately 11,000 teens use alcohol for the first time during this season, 5,000 try a cigarette for the first time and 4,5000 use marijuana for the first time during June and July. Education and preventative measures are certainly needed to help stem the rise in Teen Substance Abuse during the summer months.
Influences on Teens
Many teens are susceptible to using drugs and alcohol due to peer pressure, social media and existence in pop culture. More free time and less adult supervision is providing increased opportunity for experimental behavior. Risk factors are present during the year including freedom of summer. The earlier teens begin experimentation with substances, the more likely it is a teen will develop more serious issues, including addiction, later in life. Teens are going through many major physical, emotional and mental developmental changes during adolescent years and the effects of illicit substances can cause irreversible damage to the brain and body. A majority of adults who struggle with addiction first began using substances before age 21 years old.
Signs of Teen Substance Abuse
Some of the common signs of teen substance abuse may include the following:
- Poor grades
- Lack of hygiene
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Secretive behavior
- Unusually tired
- Secretive behavior
- Missed curfews
- Diminished physical appearance
- Bloodshot eyes
- Avoiding eye contact
Addressing Potential Use
To prevent teen drug use and substance abuse, parents can be the first line of defense. Although parents cannot be present twenty four hours a day, open conversations with teens can prevent experimentation and trouble down the road. Parents must be ever vigilant to set boundaries, monitor activities and stay involved. Asking questions helps as does regarding who a teen spends time with, what the person is doing and when the person will be home. Speaking with teens about risks of substance abuse prior to experimentation can be very impactful and go a long way towards prevention. The best approach is usually to ask straightforward questions with a calm, non-judgemental tone.
Teens may lie about substance use but it is important to set a safe space to discuss what is happening without judgement. The teen’s safety and wellbeing is the number one concern. If a teen continues to deny substance use in spite of existing evidence, a variety of resources are available to help address the issue. Professionals must help identify whether or not a problem exists and how to proceed if action is needed.
Hired Power is committed to providing information and resources to families of teens who need assistance with substance abuse issues. Call us to find out how we can support your family on the journey to helping a loved one recover and build a life without the use of substances.