We’re seeing kids become drug abusers at very young ages lately. It’s a scary thing to watch someone you love become attached to drugs and alcohol. But, when it’s your child it’s even harder to come to terms with. Their physical and mental health is your top concern and substance abuse is certainly not the best way to stay healthy. You’re probably wondering how your child fell into teen drug abuse. It is often that loved ones consider what they could have done better to prevent the substance abuse from happening. Remember as you read this that someone else’s decisions are not your fault. While we want to protect our loved ones and keep them away from harm, they make their own decisions. There are ways to better understand teen drug abuse and what you can do to prevent it. Here are some things to remember when you’re struggling to understand your child’s substance abuse issue.

Mental Health Issues Ripen with Age

Addiction is a mental illness, and most mental illnesses become more prevalent with age. It’s not something that people choose to struggle with. In fact, most mental illnesses are genetic and passed on through generations of family members. While help for mental health illness is very accessible, it’s still a very hard thing to cope with. Many people use substance abuse to distract themselves from their feelings.

If your family has a history of addiction, be mindful of your child’s mental health as they develop and age. If your family has any sort of mental health illness that runs in the family, watch for that. When your child is offered drugs, they may be simply using them to feel better about some pain they are feeling. You want to be able to create a pattern of setting an example of how to deal with pain the right way. Teach them other ways to cope. Offer open arms.

Drug Abuse is Something To Do

Whether it’s prescription drugs or illicit drugs, alone or with friends, drug abuse is something to do. A lot of people become lazy with finding ways to fill their time and lots of drugs, especially alcohol and marijuana, give people something to do. Bear in mind that any drug or alcohol that can alter someone’s state of mind is usually seen as fun for kids to do. They find it interesting to change what they know to be normal. Being bored is an easy way to spend the day doing nothing. Many people sleep the day away or binge eat. Turning to drugs and alcohol is common. Watch for warning signs.

If your child seems to be sleeping even more or going out of their way to spend time with new friends you haven’t met, they could be spending time with the wrong crowd. If they’ve been having major weight changes or spending more money than usual, that’s also a sign. A great thing to do to counteract this boredom is simply to enjoy some fun with them. Take them to do things they like to do to distract them from substance abuse. You know your child better than anyone else does, don’t forget that when they seem to be forming bad habits. You know their hobbies and interests and if you can engage them in these healthy things, they will be less likely to use drugs.

Peer Pressure Wins

Another reason your child may be doing illegal drugs is that of peer pressure. Peer pressure comes from many directions. They’re receiving it at school and right when they think they’ve escaped it, social media is there to remind them of what drugs they can do. They want to appear cool and seasoned, so they might do a drug simply to influence how people see them. The risk factors are out of question and their social status is what becomes important. In many places, smoking Tobacco and drinking alcohol is seen as cool and bad. In others, people abuse their prescription drugs or use cocaine.  Alcohol and marijuana are commonly used together. It all depends on how your child is and what kind of social climate they’re in. This is scary, but it’s necessary that you understand the context of where your child is.

The warning signs that your child may be peer pressured will be hiding in plain sight. Pay attention to who they’re spending their time with. Have they been seeing new friends? Have they since started to neglect school work or their hobbies? It can be uncomfortable to look so closely at your child’s life, but it is sometimes necessary when you’re trying to prevent their drug use and even a possible overdose

Talk to your Kids

The most important action to take when you think your child is doing drugs is to talk to them. Don’t wait until you find alcohol and marijuana in their room, or until they come home too late at night in an unhealthy state. Simply mention that you’re concerned. You know how to talk to your kids, you’ve done it all their lives. Open communication and transparency are vital. Your child may surprise you and be extremely honest. If they’re more closed off, it will still give you an idea of if they’re actually using drugs or not.  If you know that mental health issues are more than likely to happen to your child, make sure you tell them that when they’re of age to hear it. This could prevent them from using illegal drugs because they’ll understand the effects these drugs could have on their minds.

Be sure to set consequences for your child for if they do use drugs. You’re the parent and since they could be living under your roof, you want to make sure the consequences are effective. Sometimes, consequences are too distant and they don’t really cause an understanding of what parents are trying to get across. Be direct and stern in your goals for the behavior of your child so they know what will happen if they are using drugs. Talking to your child about drugs is the best way to let them know that you are not oblivious and to build trust between you and your child. 

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