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What lessons on youth substance abuse can I use with my child?

Michele Borba
Psychology
After almost a decade of a decline in teen drug abuse, a new survey out this month shows a marked and troubling upswing in youth substance abuse. The survey was done by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America and called the “MetLife Foundation Attitude Tracking Study” involving hundreds of Americans teens.  Here is a highlight:

 Alcohol, ecstasy, and marijuana use are increasing:

• Number of teens in grades 9-12 that used alcohol in the past month has grown by 11 percent, (from 35 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2009)
• Ecstasy use over the past year shows a 67 percent increase (from 6 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009)
• Marijuana use shows a 19 percent increase (from 32 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009)

There are also parenting lessons from the study that are obvious but sometimes easily overlooked. Here are four lessons on youth substance abuse you can use with your child:

Parenting Lesson 1: “Don’t make any assumptions about your teen and don’t take the, ‘Not My Kid View.’” Peer pressure is huge. Kids do want to fit in. Alcohol is easily accessible (so teens say). And adolescence is a time of experimentation and when that “if-then” part of their pre-frontal lobe doesn’t always work to put on the brake system.
Parenting Lesson 2: “Know the parents of your teen’s friends.” Stay connected with other parents. Pledge to supervise and monitor each other’s kids and pledge that there will be no unsupervised parties. Keep your house open and kid-friendly.
Parenting Lesson 3: “Know where your teen is at all times.” Monitor! Monitor! Monitor! Don’t overlook those after school hours. The times our kids are most likely to get into trouble: three to six o’clock in the afternoon.
Parenting Lesson 4: “Prevention is always the best approach.” Start the “drinking talk” with your child sooner than later.  I wrote a blog on how to talk to your kids about drinking at sooner ages and why you should. Refer back to that blog for specific ways to have that talk and other statistics about teen drinking.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.