This week’s guest blogger offers insights and tips for parents about teen drug use. These thoughts can help prevent and/or educate your teens on drug use. Read more below:
Last month, our community was stunned by the tragic loss of a 17-year-old. The definitive cause of death is unknown but according to news reports, this young man was engaging in risky behaviors that involved substance misuse.
I had a parent reach out to me and ask what parents can do to prevent or educate their adolescents regarding drug use. Here are some thoughts:
- Don’t minimize the effects of pot use or drinking. When a teen engages in those behaviors they let their guard down and it makes it far easier to take “the next step.”
- Say no to painkillers. There is no reason why a young teen needs opiates for things like wisdom teeth or even a simple broken bone. That pain can often be managed with a regimen of Tylenol and Ibuprofen.
- Opiates are NOT a right of passage. They are not fun and games. Many young adults are now heroin addicts that started with one pill from an injury. You can refuse the prescription or ask to have only 1 or 2 days worth of pills filled. The longer someone takes opiates the greater the chance they will become addicted.
KEEP ALL YOUR MEDS AND OUR CHILD’S MEDS LOCKED UP. We can not stress this enough!!!
- For most parents, the first place they go is to their medical doctor when their children struggle with anxiety, depression or other trauma. Unfortunately, most doctors prescribe medications. For example, anti-anxiety meds had the greatest uptick in overdose deaths in the State of Minnesota last year. It’s far easier to take a pill then it is to do the work of therapy. But our recommendation is to go to therapy first.
- Remember that kids aren’t just abusing pain meds. The greatest uptick of deaths in the state of Minnesota last year was benzodiazepines. Those are things like Xanax and Ativan which have proved to be the new high school designer drug. Even if you completely trust your child, it’s better to be safe. You may not just be protecting your child, but their friends as well.
- Stop and listen to your children. Most of the time they just want someone to understand rather than “solve” their problems. Offering that listening ear will often give you insights into what your kids are up to.
- Pay attention to any kind of trauma they may have experienced. Trauma is the greatest indicator of substance misuse. And that can include things like bullying, a pet dying, another family member in crisis and many other things that we may not consider as trauma. If you suspect any kind of traumatic event, please bring them in for a therapeutic evaluation.
- Watch out for the signs of drug use. There are many clues in a teens bedroom. Things like broken pens, plastic bowls, lighters, matches, tin foil, an empty bed at night. All of these things are red flags and warnings that there may be a problem. Work with your school counselors or health insurance to find a good counseling option for your teen if you notice any of these things as being “off.”
- De-stigmatize the idea of therapy in your home. There is nothing wrong with getting help, yet young people see it as “weak” or “silly.” If your family is struggling, start there yourself and set an example for the rest of your family. The more we normalize getting help, the more likely your child will be to take that step.
- Carry naloxone in your home. We have become aware of many instances where a parent did not even have a clue that their child was using opiates. Having naloxone could save a life.
Finally, remember that no matter what a parent does, 1 in 10 kids who abuse substances end up addicted. And in many cases, the parents did everything right. If that is the case, please seek help for yourself through therapy or a great support group like Thrive!
Questions about Thrive! Family Support?
Contact Pam Lanhart, Director (612) 554- 1644
Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.
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