As parents, there are so many things we face on a daily basis that are downright scary, aren’t there?
These things can be overwhelming, even paralyzing if we let them.
However, there are things we can do as parents to offset the things that bombard not only us, but our kids and our teens every single day.
Do you know what that is?
Because knowledge is power.
There is a lot at stake when it comes to our kids and our teens, and if we as parents aren’t going to put in the time and effort that it takes to keep our kids safe, who will?
One of the things that we as parents must be aware of and educate our teens about is drug and alcohol use.
But, do you know how to talk to your teens about drugs and alcohol?
Here’s something else to think about.
Many of the things we knew about drug and alcohol use a few years ago aren’t the same as what we need to know today. Things are always changing – including what we as a society think and accept about things like drugs and alcohol.
It’s National Drugs & Alcohol Facts Week® this week, which is the perfect time to learn more. You can do that here: National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week®
In fact, after consulting these drug and alcohol facts, I discovered that there were countless things I didn’t know about drugs, alcohol, and the teens of today.
After conducting a survey of nearly 48,000 public and private school students, the results revealed so much important information that we all need to be aware of.
For instance, did you know that 16% of high school seniors admitted to binge drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks in a row within the past two weeks)?
How about this fact – 71% of high school seniors don’t see regular marijuana smoking as harmful, although more than 64% disapprove of regular marijuana smoking.
Here’s the really scary thing about marijuana: in the past five years we have made an unprecedented societal shift with teens in America. Within the past five years, we have now shifted to where there are more high school seniors using marijuana on a daily basis than there are smoking cigarettes on a daily basis.
See what I mean?
Find out more facts about marijuana here: Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know.
What about e-cigarettes and our teens?
More than 50% of 12th graders believe that e-cigarettes are filled only with flavoring with more than 70% of 8th graders believing this to be fact.
But do you as a parent know what they are really inhaling with an e-cigarette?
When inhaling e-cigarettes, you really are inhaling an aerosol that contains nicotine (although not always), flavoring, and other chemicals. And, there are more than 460 brands of e-cigarettes on the market, and teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use regular tobacco products as well.
If any of these facts alarm you, check out this information about drug and alcohol facts that is overflowing with information since it is National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week.
There, you will find a quiz called the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge to take as a parent to see how much you really know about drugs and alcohol.
Take the quiz by clicking below
I took it and only knew two out of 12 things.
In taking the quiz I learned so many things that I didn’t know.
For instance, non-cigarette tobacco is third in use and that drinking, sniffing, or even just touching e-cigarettes can cause nicotine poisoning. Perhaps even more worrisome is that the misuse of everyday cough medicine has a similar effect on the brain as illegal drugs do.
Then there are all the things today’s teens are inhaling. Inhalants can cause vomiting and even choking on that vomit, convulsions, cardiac arrest, and asphyxiation as the toxic fumes fill their lungs.
Here’s another fact. In 2010, about 189,000 people under the age of 21 visited an emergency room for alcohol-related injuries.
After taking the quiz to see how much you know, be sure to check out the Family Checkup, which has many great reminders for us as parents including the need to speak with our teen calmly in the midst of conflict, defiance, or disrespect.
What else can we as parents do?
I say, a lot.
It is so important to have open communication with our teens about drugs and alcohol because we really are their best line of defense.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when talking to your teens about drugs and alcohol.
Be ready when they are
When your teen is willing to have a conversation, be ready to talk when they are – even if it’s not convenient for you. For me, this is often later at night than I would like it to be.
Listen more than you talk
While talking is important, it is also important to listen to what your teens have to say about drugs and alcohol. It is important to have an open dialog and encourage them to ask questions. This means that you are going to have to listen to what they have to say.
This can be hard, but if your teen is talking with you about important issues like drugs and alcohol, wait for your turn to speak rather than interrupting them.
Inform at least as much as you instruct
Our teens need information even more than they need instruction. Instruction is often seen as a negative while information can feel as though things are more on their terms. When presenting your teen with information like what you can find here, they are much less likely to get defensive when you are offering clear information.
Make an effort
You should make frequent efforts to talk with your teen, especially when it comes to life and death matters such as drug and alcohol abuse.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Teens are sometimes willing to answer our questions, but we often don’t ask. Don’t be afraid of asking or of hearing your teen’s answers. Wondering what your teen is doing, thinking and feeling? Ask! They might surprise you with their answers.
Start building open lines of communication from the time they are small
If you want teens who are open to talking to you, it starts long before they are teens. It’s all about building a relationship and opening those lines of communication from the time they are old enough to talk.
Be open minded
This may not be easy, but your teen deserves to be heard. This will often mean that you are keeping an open mind.
Remember, knowledge is power, and being informed is easy for us to do as parents in this modern age. Visit National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge and take the IQ Challenge to see how much you really know and to learn the information you need to guide your teens in a way that they can understand using the facts they really need to know.
As parents, we don’t have to sit back and let our teens become a statistic. It’s time to learn the facts, get rid of the myths by reading more about them in Drugs: Shatter the Myths booklet, and have some tough conversations with our kids.
Just like my teens, your teen is counting on you!
If you have a teen who has a problem with drugs and alcohol, find the help you need here: What to do if your teen has a problem with drugs