Helping teens make wise choices

Dear Parents,

I hope you find the these materials helpful in assisting your adolescents to develop in healthy ways and negotiate the challenges of their teenage years. It is important to note that the younger age at which a person begins to use drugs/alcohol, the more likely that his/her use will turn into addiction. Children’s brains do not reach full maturation until they are in their mid-twenties. The overlay of illicit drug/alcohol use on the developing brain interferes with virtually every aspect of their lives, including the ability to learn, remember, and process information.

www.recoveryhappens.com –This site includes an online video for parents on preventing teen drug use.

www.parentandteen.com - This site offers helpful information and tips for parents on how to effectively communicate with their children. 

www.teenshealth.org –A wonderful site for questions about many issues facing children and teens (healthy eating, substance use, mental health issues). It is also a resource for parents on how to help their children.)

www.drugabuse.gov –This site contains valuable information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Warning signs in the home:

Loss of interest in family activities; disrespect for family rules; withdrawal from responsibilities; verbally/physically abusive; sudden increase/decrease of appetite; disappearance of money or valuables; missing curfew; avoidance in telling you where they go and who they are with; spending a lot of time in their bedroom; finding paraphernalia such as rolling papers, pipes, roach clips, vials, plastic baggies, remnants of drugs (seeds, etc.)

Warning signs in school:

sudden drop in grades; truancy or tardiness; loss of interest in learning; sleeping in class; poor work performance; not doing homework; defiant to authority; poor attitude toward sports and extracurricular activities; reduced memory or attention span; not informing you of school related meetings or grades

Physical and Emotional signs:

changes in friend; smell of alcohol, tobacco & marijuana on clothes and breath; bloodshot eyes, enlarged or pin point pupils; argumentative, paranoid, confused or anxious; over-reacts to your inquiries about their behavior; avoiding discussions about how they’re feeling; seems sad or down; overly tired or hyperactive; drastic weight loss/gain; always asking for money; neglects appearance and hygiene

Teens may self-medicate with drugs/alcohol in order to relieve symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety. If you suspect your teen is experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, have your teen evaluated by the pediatrician and follow treatment recommendations.

Parents offer the best protection for their teens in avoiding risk factors. Here are some tips in how to lessen risk factors: 

SUPERVISION:

Ask teens where they are going, what they’ll be doing, and who are they with. Check with parents of your teen’s friends to make sure someone will be home to supervise activities.

PERSONAL DRUG HABITS:

Be aware of your own drug habits and the messages you communicate to your teen about the use of drugs/alcohol. Disclosures about your own use of drugs will most likely be seen as a “green light” to use substances even when you present this information in a negative light. Do not engage teens in your own use of substances, like asking them to get you a cigarette or retrieve a beer out of the refrigerator. This action normalizes the rituals around substance use.

LIMIT AVAILABILITY:

Be responsible in limiting access to alcohol and other drugs by keeping substances in locked cabinets. Notice and question any tampering with medication, alcohol, and items that may be used as inhalants.
SET CLEAR RULES AND EXPECTATIONS:
Discuss with teens your expectations around appropriate behavior, curfew, etc. and the penalties for neglecting to follow these rules. Communicate that you care about their mind and body, and want to help them to make healthy choices. Educate on the negative impact of substances but avoid using examples from your own experience.
DEMONSTRATE RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR:
As parents, you can be the role model in promoting and taking part in activities and celebrations that do not involve the use of drugs or alcohol. Engage your teens in fun, sober activities, and encourage extracurricular and community activities.

If you suspect your teen of having a drug problem after observing warning signs, make an appointment for a formal drug/alcohol evaluation. The sooner these issues are treated, the better, as problems tend to progress and worsen over time.

www.unityhealth.org

www.villaofhope.org

The above websites offer treatment programs for adolescents.

If you have further concerns or questions, please phone the BCS Student Assistance Program:

  • Rebecca Krzywda, SAP Coordinator: 585-637-1815
  • Krystal Crawford, Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist: 585-637-1975

 

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