Even if you talk to your teenager regularly about the risks associated with substance abuse, telling your teen not to use drugs and alcohol does not always work. While many parents are well educated about the risks of drug abuse and how to recognize the symptoms of teen drug or alcohol use, many adults don’t realize just how available these things are to high school students. The older your teen gets, the more independence he or she likely has, and that can mean increased access to drugs or alcohol. Here are six ways your teen can get such substances.
The home medicine cabinet
Prescription drugs are one of the most commonly abused substances among American teenagers. In fact, the goods in your medicine cabinet come in third in popularity among teens who abuse substances, following just behind marijuana and alcohol. Prescription drugs such as pain killers or sedatives can be abused to get high, self medicate for physical or mental pain (in the case of opiates), or in an attempt to boost productivity or concentration at school (in the case of stimulant medication such as Adderall), says the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens.
Commonly abused prescription drugs include codeine, Vicodin, OxyContin, Valium, Xanax, Ritalin and Adderall. If parents or other people in the home have been prescribed any type of drugs, ask the pharmacist or doctor about potentials for abuse and keep high-risk drugs out of family bathrooms or other easy-to-access locations. It’s also a good idea to know how much medication is on hand so you know if someone is using it outside the prescription.
From the doctor
Teens don’t have to steal prescription medications from others to abuse them. In some cases, teens might feign illnesses or symptoms to obtain their own prescription medications, abusing the drugs to get high or sharing or selling the drugs to their friends for the same reason.
Older teens who are able to drive themselves to physician appointments could also engage in doctor shopping, which involves seeing multiple doctors for the same complaints. In the short term, that can result in multiple prescriptions. Parents can cut down on this type of access to drugs by staying aware of teen medical appointments and prescriptions.
Through friends or other teens
Drugs and alcohol are often readily available through friends and other teenagers, even if your son or daughter normally hangs out with what you call “a good crowd.” Even teens who stay out of trouble and do well in school can experiment with drugs and alcohol out of curiosity, and substances such as marijuana and liquor are usually available at high school and college parties.
It’s not possible to shield teens from every temptation or danger, so parents should begin proactivity talking about peer pressure, drugs and alcohol early. As a parent, you should never be afraid to ask your teen about the details of plans or parties to make sure you know where your kids will be, what they plan on doing and when they’ll be home.
At or around school
Schools are magnets for those seeking to target teens with illicit drugs. It might be surprising how close to schools drugs get, and many times teen drug dealers even make these substances available in school hallways and classrooms. While drug awareness programs have made a big difference in many areas, parents should never think kids are safe from drug exposure simply because they spend most of their time away from home at school.
By shopping at a local department or drug store
According to a 2011 survey from Partnership for a Drug Free America, 12 percent of teens reported using over-the-counter cold and cough medicine to get high, and most drug and department stores sell numerous products that can be abused in this manner. Since 2011, enforcement of such products has increased in an attempt to protect teens and others, but teenagers who are seeking thrills, dealing with mental health or addictive disorders, or are curious about drugs but afraid to seek illicit substances can get creative in seeking a high.
From adults you might trust
Finally, teens sometimes get alcohol from other adults that you, as a parent, trust. A survey published by the American Medical Association notes that 25 percent of parents said they allow their own teens to drink alcohol occasionally with adult supervision, and one in 12 parents said they also allowed friends of their child to do the same. It’s also possible that your teen could obtain drugs from other adults in their lives.
Be aware and proactive, not afraid
If you’ve never considered where your teen might be able to get drugs or alcohol, these might be frightening revelations. Trying to shield your maturing teen from every risk is impossible and probably not healthy for either of you. As a parent, it’s important to stay aware and proactive instead of afraid.
Educate yourself about the signs of teen drug or alcohol abuse. If you suspect that your teen is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, reach out for assistance as soon as possible. You can call The Teen Treatment Center at (844)319-5239 to speak to caring admissions counselors any time of the day or night.