As a parent, you would do anything to protect your child. You’ve invested all your love, hopes and dreams into their happiness, well-being and future. When a teen slips into drug and alcohol abuse, there’s a sense of panic and a rush to fix it.
Since most parents are not psychologists or attorneys, they can only do so much or feel helpless at some point. Things like grounding your kid or rifling through their belongings looking for paraphernalia are a good start, but are they just a Band-Aid for a deeper problem? How do you know?
Study finds that alcohol and drug use are indicators of other serious issues
A recent survey based on information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that teenagers involved in marijuana and alcohol use are often coping with significant mental health issues. In other words, it is a red flag, and parents may want to dig deeper.
According to the study:
- Nine percent of teens have used alcohol or marijuana at school
- Students who use drugs or alcohol have a 64 percent chance they will get in the car with an impaired driver
- They have a 46 percent possibility of having symptoms of depression
- Approximately 25 percent of students who use may attempt suicide
The study also indicates a wide disparity between teens that use alcohol and marijuana in school versus those who did not.
Watch for warning signs
It’s important to be alert about your child’s behavior and parents tend to be more concerned when their kids come home late at night. However, substance abuse during school hours appears to put children at an even higher risk.
Here are a few things to do and watch out for that can help you diagnose the problem when your teen hasn’t or won’t make an open admission:
- Conversation: Engage your child in a conversation. This will give you an opportunity to smell any marijuana or alcohol on their breath or clothing. It will also allow you to casually check for dilated pupils or blood shot eyes.
- Mood Swings: Teen angst isn’t always just teen angst. Sometimes it’s coming down from a high. Acting hyper or doing things that are out of character may also be indicators.
- Secrecy: If your child gives you vague answers about plans or destinations, something’s up. Could be a teen romance, but it could be something more.
- Academic Decline: Grades dropping, cutting class or disciplinary issues at school may be indications of substance abuse.
You can take action
People who begin abusing substances as teens have an increased chance of falling into addiction. Marijuana and alcohol are common early-stage substances. No one knows or loves a child like a parent, and you knkow it’s up to you to guide and protect them.
Under New Jersey law, teens involved in drugs and alcohol can face stiff penalties that include:
- Loss of license
- Loss of college admission
- Travel restriction
The survey based on CDC data tends to indicate that troubled teens may turn to substances as a coping method. Self-medicating tends to exacerbate underlying problems such as depression or anxiety, not make them better.
While it’s important to get your child the legal help he or she needs, it is also important to address the potential for these underlying issues.