"This is your brain on drugs." You may remember this ad from back in the day, intended to scare kids away from drugs. And while you may think drug and alcohol abuse could never happen to your child, don’t be fooled.
More than a third of eighth graders have drunk alcohol, one in five eighth-graders has already used some type of illicit drug, ranging from tobacco to heroin, one in five teens has abused prescription medications, and by 12th grade, about half of teens have used an illicit drug at least once.
Drug and alcohol abuse that starts in the teen years can lead to lifelong abuse and addiction if the problem isn’t addressed early on. Teens who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to become addicted to alcohol later in life than those who waited until after age 21.
Mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders are often linked to drug and alcohol addiction, and the combination of the two can be devastating. Overly anxious or depressed teens often self-medicate to feel better. Teens who drink or do drugs are more likely to commit self-harm than those who don’t.
Parental involvement is critical for preventing drug and alcohol abuse. Don’t expect the school to do it for you. You need to take an active role in helping your teen say no.
Here are 6 tips for talking to your teen about drugs and alcohol:
Even with the proper guidance from parents, any kid can end up in trouble. There are numerous resources available to get your teen the right kind of help.
Read a parent’s guide to prevention or learn what to do if your child is using drugs.
Get support from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.
David Lott, MD is a psychiatrist with Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.
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