Much work has been done to reduce and eliminate drug use among teens. In 2012, 75.9 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 reported having seen or heard drug or alcohol prevention messages in the past year from sources outside of school, such as from posters or pamphlets, on the radio, or on television.
Despite these positive developments, teenage drug abuse continues to be a problem. According to a report by Ending Addiction Changes Everything, 13.2 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 indicated that they had been approached by someone selling drugs in the past month. Younger teens (ages 12-15) said that they can get prescription drugs in an hour, while older teens (16- to 17) said they can get marijuana within a day. What’s really startling is that 9 out of 10 people who meet the clinical criteria for substance use disorders began smoking, drinking or using other drugs before they turned 18.
No parent wants to believe that their child will be addicted to drugs. In fact, 6 in 10 parents say they are not concerned about their children’s possible use or abuse of alcohol or other illicit drugs. However, parents cannot afford to turn a blind eye. We must address this issue early and often. Parents are the key to helping their kids avoid drug-related problems.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that teens who have high-quality relationships with Mom and Dad are less likely to use drugs, drink or smoke. Even more interesting is the impact that fathers have on preventing their children from using drugs:
Compared to teens who say they have an excellent relationship with Dad,* teens who have a less than very good relationship with their father are: Almost four times likelier to have used marijuana (23 percent vs. 6 percent); Twice as likely to have used alcohol (35 percent vs. 16 percent); and Two and a half times as likely to have used tobacco (15 percent vs. 6 percent).
Unfortunately, only 1 in 4 kids reported having conversations about drugs with their parents. The following infographic will help you to identify potential problems and give you a starting point to have an important conversation about drug use with your teenager.