How well do you know your teenager? When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart conversation about his challenges, hopes, and fears? Would you know if your child was experimenting with drugs or alcohol or even struggling with a substance abuse problem?
Because adolescence is a critical period of development, experimenting with alcohol or drugs during the teenage years can contribute to an increased potential for substance abuse later on in life. And, substance abuse in young people is also linked to a variety of other problems, including delayed social or academic development.
The good news for parents is that simply talking about the issue is one of the best ways to prevent it.
“Merely talking with your child about substance abuse can greatly decrease the likelihood of problems,” says Dr. Bob Ball, Vice President of Programs at the Idaho Youth Ranch. “It doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated.”
Positive reinforcement can make a big difference. If you’re a parent, take time to check in with your teenager. Ask how they’re feeling, what challenges they’re facing, and really listen to their answers. Give kudos and encouragement for making good decisions. Make sure they understand what your rules are and what the consequences for breaking those rules are. Let your child know you appreciate and support them.
If you can’t reach your child or you suspect they might already be using, expert help is available. Anchor House, a program of the Idaho Youth Ranch, offers residential treatment for boys ages 13-18 who are struggling to overcome drug and alcohol abuse. To learn more, contact us at 1-877-817-8141 or email email@example.com.