Parents: Take Early Action on Alcohol and Drug Prevention

In 2000, when my wife and I discovered that our 15 year-old son David had a serious drug and alcohol addiction, we took him to a treatment center to be assessed and were told he needed professional help. The Center was temporarily full so we decided to try and handle it on our own. Our delay in seeking help enabled his disease to progress rapidly in spite of the efforts from his counselors, family and friends.

David died in a drug related drowning eleven months after we first learned of his problem. Addiction in adolescents can occur rapidly, which is why it is crucial to identify the signs of youth substance use and act immediately.

The recent release of the Partnership/MetLife Foundation Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) of teen drug use and parent and teen attitudes toward substance use, shows both encouraging and alarming trends. The data point to notable increases in teen use of alcohol, marijuana and Ecstasy mark an end to a decade of drug and alcohol decline among young people. This coupled with the decline in teen and parents perceptions of harm, is a strong indication that American society may see a major increase in adolescent drug and alcohol use in the United States since the 1990’s.

This storm is fed by a growing climate of:

  • Parental denial
  • Teen enjoyment of getting high
  • Parents of teens waiting or taking no action at all for their teens struggling with a drug and alcohol addiction

The ever growing number of pro-drug cues in popular culture  coupled with declines in federal funding of prevention programs, only adds to the tempest. The 2009 PATS Report should be a clear warning to parents to act decisively and arm themselves with the online tools that are now available to combat youth substance use disorders.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids parent online resources provide valuable insight and guidance at times when parents need them the most: when they confront the challenges of teen drug and alcohol use. What to do, what to say, and where to go for help are always the first questions parents ask when they discover a problem.

Delay is not only perilous, but it can have tragic results. We know that all too well now.

Drug Guide for Parents

Learn about the most common drugs that teens use, including what it looks like, the dangers, signs of use, and important facts to know to keep your child safe.

chart of drugs most used by teens

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