School is opening and many teens will be starting high school for their first year. 9th grade can be a difficult transition for many teenagers. Just when you finally felt comfortable at your middle school, familiar with the guidance counselors and even chipper with the school nurse, life is making a major shift.
According to a survey of 6,500 teens by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, 73 percent said the number one reason they turn to drugs and alcohol is to relieve stress at school. As the new school year begins, how can you help your teen adjust especially if they are starting a new school.
The last thing we want to have happen is our teen turning to substance abuse to relieve their anxiety and stress about fitting into their new school and surroundings. Peer pressure can be overwhelming and the desire to be part of a group.
Fear of not fitting in could fuel your teenager to engage in harmful activity such as drinking and using drugs to be part of a clique.
TIME TO ACT! is a first-of-its kind online help resource for parents and caregivers who suspect or know their child is experimenting, using or has a problem with alcohol or drugs.
Many teens feel like an outsider and long to feel included and liked by their teenage peers. This need can be so strong that they engage in teenage drinking or drug use to help them make friends, fit in or be accepted.
What can parents do?
- Get to know your kid’s friends and the friends’ parents
- Encourage your teen’s friends to hang out at your house: give them a private space if possible, feed them and leave them alone.
- Know the cell phone and house phone numbers of your child’s closest friends
- Pay close attention when kids mention new names and find out who those kids are
- Tell stories (either from your own life or from history, books, movies, etc.) of people who chose not to go along with the crowd — and achieved great things because of it.
- Encourage and help your teen to sign up for a team, club, youth group, art class, or volunteer organization
- Explain to your child that real friends don’t make you do things you aren’t comfortable with
Being an educated parent will help you have safer and healthier teens. As this new school year begins, take the time to talk to your teens. Communication is key to prevention of drug and alcohol use.