Based on recently published research, some parents believe that there is no point in talking to their kids about substance abuse because it will not make a difference. These parents believe that their children will use tobacco, alcohol or drugs regardless of whether they step in to start a conversation. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), states that almost one in ten parents have not spoken with their teen about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse within the past year.
The annual report surveyed 67,500 Americans over the age of 12, and this particular data related to conversations between parents and teens aged 12 to 17. This belief by parents is clearly a misconception, as other national surveys show that teens are less likely to engage in drug or alcohol abuse if they know their parents disapprove. Additional research shows that openly conversing about substance abuse with teens at a young age, such as in middle school, help to prevent experimentation with drugs and alcohol as the teens get older.
The best time to talk with children and teens about the dangers of drug and alcohol is before summer breaks and holidays. Time off from school, such as Memorial Day Weekend, means that students may be home alone without parents and more likely to engage in risky behaviors with friends. It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure the well being of their children and teach them how to make healthy, responsible decisions. Children and teens need strong role models, and this involves understanding right from wrong. Teens who experiment with drugs or alcohol early in life are more likely to develop substance dependency in young adulthood and beyond. If you have not already had this conversation with your child or teen about substance abuse, remember that there may not ever be a convenient time – the most important step is to start the conversation.
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