Addiction is a severe and complex condition that affects millions of people in the United States. Without early intervention and treatment, people will likely live with addiction and its effects for years. For many, it is a lifelong condition.
Early intervention and prevention can be critical tools in preventing someone from developing an addiction to drugs and alcohol later in life. Parents, teachers, and other adults who work with teens can take steps to learn about teen substance abuse and how to support healthy behaviors.
Learning how to prevent teen drug abuse can help young people avoid the risk of addiction later on. Parents and educators should be proactive about drug abuse prevention and be ready to help teens get substance abuse treatment if needed.
Developing strategies to prevent teen drug abuse can help people prepare to support the teens in their life.
Understanding Teen Drug Abuse
Research into teen drug abuse performed in 2018 shows that many young people are using substances. Almost a third of teens in 8th-12th grade had tried an illicit substance in the previous year, and about 18% reported drinking in the last month. About 12% had engaged in binge drinking during the last month.
The substances teens are using have the potential to be highly addictive. Among the most common are:
Teens begin using substances for a variety of reasons. They may want to fit in with a group of friends or use drugs and alcohol to mask the symptoms of a mental illness.
Using drugs and alcohol to socialize or self-medicate can lead to lifelong substance abuse and addiction problems. It can also keep teens from learning and using social and coping skills they will need for the rest of their life. It is crucial to prevent teen drug abuse to prevent young people from making decisions that impact the rest of their lives.
Why is it Important to Prevent Teen Drug Abuse?
Addiction is devastating for the addicted person and their community. People who develop addiction are at risk of severe health problems, accidents and injuries, legal and financial trouble, and difficulty in their ability to work and have social lives.
The earlier a person begins using drugs and alcohol, the more likely they will develop an addiction to substances.
When teens abuse substances, they set themselves up for long-term, negative consequences to their physical and emotional health. They also experience immediate threats to their safety and wellbeing. Teens could get in trouble at school, get in trouble with the law, or hurt their mental health.
Teens who abuse drugs and alcohol are at increased risk of addiction. They also are more likely to exhibit:
- Poor judgment
- Risky sexual behavior
- Impaired driving
- Poor school performance
Early preventative measures can help keep teens safe and healthy in the short term and avoid a lifelong struggle with addiction.
Learn More About Teen Drug Abuse
Education is the key to prevention. If you are a parent or work with teens, it is vital to learn as much as you can about teen substance abuse and addiction. Knowing what drugs are likely to be abused and the signs of substance abuse and addiction can help you identify a problem if it comes up.
There are many resources for adults who want to learn more about ways to prevent teen drug abuse. These include government agencies, addiction counselors, support groups, and school professionals.
It is also important to identify potential risk factors for substance abuse. These include:
- Family history
- Mental health or behavioral issues
- History of trauma
- Low self-esteem
These risk factors may make it more likely that a teen will abuse drugs or alcohol. However, anyone can use substances or develop an addiction, regardless of the risk factors they have.
Steps Adults Can Take to Prevent Teen Drug Abuse
To prevent teen drug abuse, parents and other concerned adults must learn as much as they can about substance abuse and addiction. Getting educated about addiction and recovery will let them answer questions and find resources if necessary. Then, you can create an environment where teens feel comfortable talking about substance abuse. You can support this by taking the following steps.
- Start early: Talk about substance abuse and addiction when your kids are young. Use age-appropriate terms and give them only the information they need or is suitable for their age. Keep this conversation ongoing so your kids always feel as though they can talk to you about anything–even sensitive topics like substance abuse and addiction.
- Develop open communication: Ask your child open-ended, age-appropriate questions about substance abuse. Share your values and listen to their thoughts. Don’t judge or shame them for their curiosity. Instead of having one extensive conversation about substance abuse, talk about it frequently.
- Use real-life examples: If you see something about substance abuse in the news or on a TV show, use it to open up a conversation with your teen. Doing this helps your child share their ideas and ask questions frequently.
In addition to creating an open and ongoing conversation with your teen, you can also take additional preventative steps, such as:
- Discard any unused prescription medications at a local pharmacy or prescription drop-off site.
- Encourage your teen to call you for a ride if they are ever under the influence rather than hiding it from you and getting behind the wheel of a car.
- Lead by example. Drink responsibly and don’t abuse drugs.
If you believe a teen in your life is using drugs or alcohol, reach out to addiction specialists in your area to find the treatment they require.
Find Help for Yourself or a Loved One
For more information about how to prevent teen drug abuse or for information about finding local treatment options, reach out to the specialists at Recovery Centers today.