Just reading the title of the blog makes most of us say “whew, not our problem! But let me tell you about some statistics.
The Monitoring the Future Study is a national survey that measures smoking, drinking and drug use in more than 400 secondary schools. They report that 20% of 8th graders, 36% of 10th graders and 48% of 12 graders have used an illicit drug. Furthermore, they report that 6% of 8th grades, 19% of 10 graders and 30% of 12 graders reported getting drunk within the month prior to the survey. Surprising?
Substance use is a problem that can progress as children move through adolescence. Initially, everyone is abstinent (no use). Eventually some will experiment. Problematic use is defined as when adverse consequences occur…like school failure, car accidents, injuries or even relationship problems with your parents.
Substance abuse is a pattern of use that causes impaired social or school functioning with recurrent physical risk or legal problems over a 12 month period of time.
Substance dependence is when the teenager has a compulsive use despite negative consequences. They have a loss of control over their use and a preoccupation with using the substance. This is addiction. The lines can be blurry and a teenager can cross them in a short period of time. In fact, teenagers progress from casual use to dependence faster than adults, and they are more likely to use multiple substances.
How do you protect your kids? Work on your relationship and keep it positive!
Inconsistent discipline, lack of parental monitoring and parental alcohol and drug use increase the risk to the teen. Things that we can’t control- a genetic predisposition in the family or another underlying psychological diagnosis. There are treatments available from outpatient counseling to wilderness therapy. Pay attention to your teens now and lets keep them from going down this path in the first place.