How parents can help teens kick the habit

NATIONAL Drug Awareness has come and gone without causing a whimper and thousands of teenagers continue to sink themselves and their families in misery.

NATIONAL Drug Awareness has come and gone without causing a whimper and thousands of teenagers continue to sink themselves and their families in misery.

Coinciding with International Day Against Drug Abuse and falling on June 26 Drug Awareness Week is supposed to highlight the dangers of drug abuse and rampant illicit drug trafficking activities.

But both these campaigns and many other related national and international interventions always miss the spot: the family, particularly the parents and their teens.

Equipping parents with information, tips and courage seems to be the missing ingredient.

If you think your teen may be doing drugs, look for the following:

lRadical changes in their behaviour including increased lying and stealing;

lPhysical changes, including an inability to sleep or hyperactivity; and

lEmotional changes.

Here are some of the physical changes that can signal drug use in your teen:

lNeglecting their appearance or hygiene;

lDrastic weight gain or loss; and

lSmelling of smoke or marijuana.

If your teen is doing drugs, it could manifest in emotional changes:

lUnexplainable, quick mood swings;

lWithdrawal from family and friends and increased irritability or becoming more argumentative.

Is your teen at risk? Be aware of activities associated with drug use:

lSmoking cigarettes;

lCriminal activity;

Three reasons your teen might be tempted to take drugs:

lPeer pressure;

lDangerous curiosity - they just want to experiment with new things and don't care about the consequences; and

lStress.

How can I talk to my teen about drug abuse?

lEstablish honest and open communication;

lRestrain your emotions and reactions to what they tell you; and

lUse stories or other facts to help explain the consequences of drug use.

Parents should not let a friend's drug habit influence their teens. How?

lParents should explain their feelings about drug abuse to their teens; and

lParents should reinforce their families' "no drug" policy.

Parents should offer to find help for their teens' drug-addicted friends but also explain why they can't hang out together until their drugging friends get clean.

Parents should remember that prevention is the best policy.

Parents should talk to their teens about health risks associated with drugs, including :

lThe risk of addiction, overdose, or death; and

lAn increase in the probability of contracting HIV-Aids. - Based on information from By Parents For Parents

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