SUMMER IS A PEAK TIME FOR DRUG AND ALCOHOL USE AMONG TEENS
Parents are encouraged to develop a summer plan with this in mind
With summer upon us, students, teachers and parents look forward to a break from the busy school year. By the time June hits, most people look forward to slowing down and enjoying a laid back summer. Although this sounds like a good plan, prevention experts suggest it’s in our child’s best interest to stay active during the summer especially since research shows that June and July are the riskiest months of the year for first time drug and alcohol use among youth.
Why summer? To put it simply: too much time on youths’ hands, combined with lack of supervision, equals trouble.
ACCORDING TO THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION:
- Each day during the SCHOOL YEAR, about 8,000 adolescents take their first drink of alcohol. Compare that to the average SUMMER day, where about 11,000 adolescents take their first drink of alcohol.
- Each day during the SCHOOL YEAR, about 3,000 to 4,000 youth smoke cigarettes or marijuana for the first time. Compare that to the average SUMMER day, where about 4,500 youth smoke cigarettes or marijuana for the first time.
- As for students who have already begun drinking and smoking, many are known to indulge more often and more
heavily during June and July.
PARENTS, HERE ARE SOME VALUABLE TIPS TO HELP ENSURE THAT YOUR TEEN’S SUMMER ISN’T “WASTED”:
- Make clear your expectations for your children not to drink or use other drugs.
- Supervise tweens and even teens as much as possible. Set house rules for who is allowed and not allowed in your home when you are not. Then, check in regularly.
- Monitor where your children are, who they are with and what they are planning to do. If any part of their plan changes, instruct them to let you know.
- If you are not able to be home with them, consider hiring a trusted college-age “buddy” to check in on them or hang-out with them for short periods of time.
- BEWARE of summer parties and do NOT allow your children to attend one where underage drinking is planned, even under the “agreement” that they will not drink. This is legally risky and the peer pressure may overcome their better judgment. No matter how much you “trust” your son or daughter, it is never wise to put any child in such a position.
- If your teen finds themselves at a party where alcohol or other drugs come out, talk to them about an exit plan where they can call you day or night for a safe getaway.
- Lead by example. Show your children that a fun, summer party does not have to include alcohol. And if you choose to drink at a gathering, drink in moderation and let your children see that you are not driving. For better or worse, they are watching and learning.
- Remind them to never ride in a car, boat or any other motor vehicle with a driver who is under the influence of any substance.
- Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. You may be surprised to learn that some families are not on the same page as you when it comes to underage consumption of alcohol or other drug use.
- Help them create structure for their days, whether it is getting a fun, part-time summer job; volunteering; taking part in an educational class, workshop or adventure camps, etc. Help them discover what interests them.
Sources: Drug Free Action Alliance, Know! Your Summer Plan of Action, June 2013; Narconon: Keeping your teen drug and alcohol free this summer, 2013.
Visit www.DrugFreeCollier.org for additional prevention resources.
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