Summertime can be a frightening time for parents of a teenager. No school and less structure give kids idle time which, if you believe in this sort of thing, often can be referred to as “the devil’s plaything”. With so much time on their hands and so little oversight by their parents and other adults, teens can get into all sorts of mischief, jackpots and overall bad shit. Downtown and boredom are often seen a jumping off points for teens when it comes to drug and alcohol experimentation, which can then in turn become a dependency or a full-blown addiction. Even scarier is that teens and adolescents are exposed to a wider variety of “hard” or “street” drugs like heroin, crack and ecstasy at a younger and younger age. With the substances becoming more powerful and more potent (thus, more dangerous), experimentation with friends can quickly become substance abuse and drug addiction. So what can parents do?
Here are some tips for parents during the summertime to keep an eye on their teens and prevent drug and alcohol abuse:
- Keep your kids engaged. Although there is no school, summertime is not a time to allow your teen to do nothing. Get them involved in activities. Camps, sports or part-time jobs all will accomplish this and keep them regularly engaged in something positive. Find something that they enjoy doing and push them to pursue it. This helps also in keeping them accountable and stimulated.
- Provide structure and a schedule. This doesn’t have to be the same exact schedule all summer long, but there should be some idea during different parts of the summer time that allows for structure. Perhaps there is a family vacation planned for in August? Then make sure your teen has a job or is going to camp for the part of summer before the vacation begins. Make sure there is some oversight during the day if you work, so that your teen is not left unattended.
- Communicate with other parents. It takes a village to raise a child. Often teens that become involved with drugs and alcohol will do so at one or two distinct places. They will often find the one friend whose parents are never home or are out of town regularly. Make sure you know the parents of the other children that your teen hangs out with and discuss with them your thoughts and feelings. Be open with any concerns. Communicate behaviors that you notice. The more responsible sets of adult eyes that are watching over your teen, the better.
- Keep an eye out for any attitude or behavioral changes in your teen. When a teen becomes involved with drug and alcohol abuse, there will undoubtedly be changes in their mood, their attitude, their appearance and their behavior. They may be more moody, lash out more at authority, seem more depressed and act more secretive. Be cognizant of these types of changes. Have open and honest dialogue with your teen. If need be, consult a professional.
It’s terribly sad but drug addiction and alcoholism are affecting more and more teens at younger and younger ages nowadays. The drugs they are using are stronger, more dangerous and more readily available. Discussing drugs and alcohol use and abuse with your teens certainly may be uncomfortable, but that discomfort is worth it knowing you may be able to have a positive influence or offer to get them help if necessary. Teen drug abuse is no laughing matter and the more parents are aware of it and educated about it the more they can do to ultimately prevent it.
Need More Help? Call a Professional
If you or someone you know is suffering from a drug and alcohol addiction and needs treatment please call us for help. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive addiction treatment in the area. If we aren’t the best fit, we will work with you to find a treatment center that fits your needs. Please call us at (410) 773-0500 or email [email protected]. For more information on all of our alcohol and addiction treatment services and resources, please visit the web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.