According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, summer is when many teens try alcohol, tobacco and other drugs for the first time. Why? Extra unstructured time may be one of the culprits. Pure boredom may be another. And many teens are left on their own during the day when parents have to work.
So what can you do to help your teen avoid experimenting with substances during the summer? Here are a few tips that might help.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of substance abuse. Conversations should be ongoing and can start as early as 8 or 9. Research shows that parents can have a tremendous impact on their children, even though it may not seem like it.
- Help your teen avoid boredom. Long hot summer days with nothing to do is a recipe for trouble. Consider letting your teen choose a camp that interests him or her. You can also encourage your teen to volunteer at a local shelter, community center, child camp, nursing home, etc. If your teen is at an age to work, help him or her get a job life guarding, babysitting or even working at a local grocery store. Internships are another great way to pass the summer by while helping your teen to beef up his or her college application.
- Make the most of your time off. When you don’t have to work, schedule activities that involve all family members. Teens and preteens who regularly spend time with family are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, and tend to live healthier lives in general. Just sitting down most evenings to eat dinner as a family is a step in the right direction.
Overall, approaching the summer months with a plan will help keep your teen on track until the new school year begins and beyond. If you have any questions about teen drug abuse, please call our hope line at (855) 969-HOPE.