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5 Tips for Steering Teens Away From Drugs

Did you know that by the time your child is born, you have approximately 936 weeks with him until he graduates from high school? When he goes off to middle school, that time has dwindled to 364 weeks. Looking at time in this manner, it may seem as though your days of raising your child are limited. However, many parents feel like the weeks of adolescence creeps by and is never-ending.

During the pivotal adolescent years, arguments have evolved from not getting a candy bar at the store, to sneaking out in the middle of the night, or worse yet, coming home under the influence. Yes, the big issues are what you have to tackle head-on during the teen years. Unfortunately, you only have a few short weeks to hit the message home about the dangers associated with drugs.

Tip #1 Set the Limits

On all highways there are signs that warn drivers about their surroundings. Failure to heed the warning of any of these signs can result in adverse consequences. Just like driving, teens also need to have limits, particularly when it comes to drugs. These limits need to be established early. They need to be clear, concise, and there needs to be a consequence for failure to follow the rules.

Start setting your limits with the expectations below:

  1. Don’t drink until age 21.
  2. Don’t be in places where underage drinking or drug use is occurring.
  3. Don’t get into a vehicle with someone who is under the influence.

By setting the limits early, your teen will learn how to steer clear of drugs and avoid the consequences associated with not abiding by the rules.

Tip #2  Recognize the Signs

Failure to adhere to the rules of the road can result in injury, or worse yet… a fatality. Drug use is the same. There are some clear and evident signs of drugs use. Failure to identify and act on these signs can lead to a major collision. It’s important to know and recognize the warning signs so you can help your teen steer clear of danger. Parents, if you suspect that your teen is experimenting with drugs have him or her tested immediately. Don’t second guess yourself. Time is of the essence and early detection can lead to a better outcome.

Below are some of the common warning signs of drug use:

  1. Declining Grades
  2. Skipping School
  3. Declining Hygiene
  4. Changing in Friends
  5. Changing Moods
  6. Lying and Secrecy and Suspicious Behavior
  7. Pulling Away from the Family
  8. Increasing Defiance
  9. Isolating and Spending More Time Alone in Room


Tip #3  Call for Roadside Assistance

Sometimes your teen may find himself in a tough situation, where he has to make a decision of whether or not to hop in the car with an intoxicated driver. Now, while you may be thinking “not my child, he knows better…” consider this:  According to AAA, 87% of teens reported their friends would be more likely to drive after drinking than to call home for a ride (especially if they thought they would get in trouble). Also alarming is that approximately 19% of teens said they have ridden with someone who had been drinking rather than calling their parents to come and get them. Thirty percent of teens know other peers who have gotten DUIs for impaired driving. Now, those are some scary and sobering statistics.

If your teen gets into a sticky situation where he has to decide whether to call home or hop in the car, he should not have to debate the right answer. If you set the stage early and work through what to do in a difficult situation, the answer should be a no brainer. Your teen needs to know you are there should he ever need roadside assistance.

Tip #4  Learn to Take Detours

Peer impressions mean a lot to teens. They don’t want to be embarrassed in front of their friends, and will go to extreme measures to save face. If your teen accidentally ends up in a situation where others are using drugs, he probably won’t want to say “I’m calling my parents.” But he may text you a code phrase like “It’s in the washer” so you know he needs you. Then you have the fun of being the party pooper by telling your son he has to come home because he didn’t finish his chores and your teen gets to save face.

Another thing to think about is coming up with an “easy out” when offered drugs. Help your teen come up with three or four “fast save” excuses to safely maneuver out of harm’s way. Examples may include: “I can’t use drugs because my parents drug test me” or “I have an interview tomorrow and I have to get screened.” Consider this: As hard as it is raising a teen, it’s equally hard – if not more difficult – being one.

Tip #5  Take Care of Your Car

One of the best things you can teach your teen is to take care of her body. Just like a car will not hold up unless it’s properly taken care of, neither will the human body. The research is crystal clear about adolescents and drugs: Early use can lead to long-term brain damage and it substantially increases the risk of addiction. Teach your teen the value of good emotional, mental, and physical health.  

Hang on tight, parents, as the adolescent years will fly by. Unlike driving, there are no U-turns in life; you can’t go back. Take advantage of every opportunity to speak with your teen about the dangers associated with drug use and how to avoid sticky situations. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open, so you don’t have to take any unfortunate detours along the way.

Total number of weeks to steer your teen in the right direction: 364 – but hey, who’s counting?


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