You have probably already heard your teen complain of boredom as the summer drags on. With so much free time on their hands, teens become likely to experiment with new friends and activities. It should come to no surprise that teens tend to use alcohol and other drugs more during the summer with more free time; however, there are some statistics about teen substance abuse in the summer that may surprise you.
- During an average day in June or July, more than 5,000 teens smoke cigarettes for the first time, over 11,000 teens try alcohol and another 4,500 tried smoking marijuana (US News).
It is important to ensure you are having active conversations with your teen about drug and alcohol use. Your teen is probably more aware about alcohol and drugs than you think. Overall, 90 percent of Americans with substance abuse problems started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18 (Above the Influence). As parents, you should build relationships with your children on trust, but you also must be sure you have created preventative measures so that substances cannot be abused in your home. Lock up alcohol and medicine cabinets, and keep count of all prescriptions and alcohol in your home.
Make sure your child is involved in activities this summer. Children are at a higher risk of experimenting with drugs and alcohol if they are at home alone all day. Whenever your child is unsupervised, check in occasionally to confirm their whereabouts and activities.
Lastly, be aware of what you are doing in front of your teens. The legal drinking age is 21 because the brains on teenagers are not developed enough to make rational decisions. Children will mimic what their parents are doing, so be a positive role model to your children.