Now that school is out and kids are on summer break, parents all over the nation worry about how their teens will spend all their free time. Some kids will keep themselves busy with summer jobs, volunteer work, travel, hobbies, and sports and most teens will likely be relaxing or having fun. But when they’ve run out of things to do or get bored, they may be quick to go out and with friends and find new activities.

The unfortunate reality is that teens don’t always make the right choices. They’re still maturing, and too often, become pressured by their peers to try risky things that are “trending.” Social and emotional pressures may lead to poor decision-making. Teens may start to hang out with people that engage in dangerous behavior. They may have access to substances in your home, such as prescription drugs and alcohol, and to quell their curiosity, they may experiment with substances to fit in or see how their body will react.

Increasing awareness to prevent underage substance abuse

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one in five teens aged 16 to 17 has admitted to alcohol use, while one in 10 reported binge drinking. Some of the respondents were as young as 12 and reported getting drunk in the past month. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 62% of 12th graders have abused alcohol, and 50% have at least once misused a drug. It’s important for parents to understand how easily teens can access alcohol and addictive prescription medicine. Teens can get these items from their parent’s liquor or medicine cabinet or at their friends’ houses. Alcohol and drugs can often be available to teens at parties they attend. Some teens have reported getting drinks from their friend’s parents, who allow them to drink at their house, insisting it’s better to drink at home where they can monitor them rather than at a party.

Another reality is that you can’t always supervise your teens to ensure they’re not drinking alcohol or taking drugs. As a parent, your best course of action is to have meaningful and informative conversations with your teenager about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

Beyond the statistics of how prevalent substance use and abuse is in teens, kids need to know the dangers of abusing alcohol or drugs. 11.2% of overdose deaths occurred in people between 15 and24. And in the last year, 407,000 teens aged 12 to 17 met the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder.

Teens misuse alcohol and drugs for various reasons. At this age, kids can feel indestructible, insecure, and desire to be socially accepted. Therefore, mental health also plays a critical role in substance abuse prevention in teens. If you worry that your teen may beat risk but do not know how to start the conversation, family therapy can help.

This summer is the perfect time to connect with your teen to discuss mental health issues and substance abuse prevention. To learn more about the different approaches to family therapy, click here to learn more about our services.

If you or a loved one have an emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room or call 1-866-837-7521 to be connected to Communicare’s mobile crisis team, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.