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«A Resource Guide for Parents and Teens Developed and Compiled by the Youth Council of the DuPage Workforce Board A Letter to Parents: Your teen’s ...»

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www.wesleymission.org.au www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov www.nces.ed.gov Teen drug abuse: Helping your teen avoid drugs Teen drug abuse can have a major impact on your teen's life. Find out how to help your teen make healthy choices and avoid drug abuse. Teens who experiment with drugs put their health and safety at risk. You can help prevent teen drug abuse by talking to your teen about the consequences of using drugs and the importance of making healthy choices.

Why teens abuse drugs Various factors can contribute to teen drug abuse, from insecurity to a desire for social acceptance. Teens often feel indestructible and might not consider the consequences of their actions, leading them to take dangerous risks — such as abusing legal or illegal drugs.

Common risk factors for teen drug abuse include:

 A family history of substance abuse  A mental or behavioral health condition, such as depression, anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity  disorder (ADHD)  Early aggressive or impulsive behavior  A history of traumatic events, such as experiencing a car accident or being a victim of abuse  Low self-esteem or poor social coping skills  Feelings of social rejection  Lack of nurturing by parents or caregivers  Academic failure  Relationships with peers who abuse drugs  Drug availability or belief that drug abuse is OK Keep in mind that your teen's risk factors might change over time. Consider reviewing them once a year, such as around your teen's birthday.

Consequences of teen drug abuse

Negative consequences of teen drug abuse might include:

Impaired driving. Driving under the influence of any drug can impair a driver's motor skills, reaction time and judgment — putting the driver, his or her passengers, and others on the road at risk.

Sexual activity. Teens who abuse drugs are more likely to have poor judgment, which can result in unplanned and unsafe sex.

Drug dependence. Teens who abuse drugs are at increased risk of serious drug use later in life.

Concentration problems. Use of drugs, such as marijuana, might affect a teen's memory, motivation and ability to learn.

Serious health problems. Ecstasy can cause liver damage and heart failure. High doses of or chronic use of methamphetamine can cause psychotic behavior. Chronic use of inhalants can harm the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Abuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications can cause respiratory distress and seizures.

Talking to your Teen about Drug Abuse It can be hard to talk to your teen about drug abuse. Start by choosing a comfortable time and setting when you're unlikely to be interrupted. If you're anxious, share your feelings with your teen. You might also consider sharing the responsibility with another nurturing adult in your teen's life.

Here are some tips for talking with your teen about drugs:

1. Ask your teen's views. Avoid long, boring lectures. Instead, listen to your teen's opinions and questions about drug use. Observe your teen's nonverbal responses to see how he or she feels about the topic. Encourage your teen to talk by making statements instead of asking questions. For example, saying, "I'm curious about your point of view" might work better than "What do you think?"

2. Discuss reasons not to abuse drugs. Avoid scare tactics. Emphasize how drug use can affect things important to your teen — such as sports, driving, health and appearance. Explain that even a teen can develop a drug problem.

3. Consider media messages. Some television programs, movies, websites or songs glamorize or trivialize drug use.

Talk about what your teen has seen or heard.

4. Discuss ways to resist peer pressure. Brainstorm with your teen about how to turn down offers of drugs.

5. Be ready to discuss your own drug use. Think ahead about how you'll respond if your teen asks about your own drug use. If you chose not to use drugs, explain why. If you did use drugs, share what the experience taught you.

Don't be afraid that talking about drug abuse will plant ideas in your teen's head. Conversations about drugs won't tempt your teen to try drugs. Instead, talking about drug abuse lets your teen know your views and understand what you expect of him or her.

Other preventive strategies

In addition to talking to your teen, consider other strategies to prevent teen drug abuse:

1. Know your teen's activities. Pay attention to your teen's whereabouts. Find out what adult-supervised activities your teen is interested in and encourage him or her to get involved.

2. Establish rules and consequences. Make it clear that you won't tolerate drug abuse. Rules might include leaving a party where drug abuse occurs and not riding in a car with a driver who's been using drugs. Agree on the consequences of breaking the rules ahead of time — and enforce them consistently.

3. Know your teen's friends. If your teen's friends abuse drugs, your teen might feel pressure to experiment, too.

Get to know your teen's friends and their parents.

4. Keep an eye on prescription drugs. Take an inventory of all prescription and over-the-counter medications in your home and keep them out of easily accessible places — such as the medicine cabinet. If your teen needs to take prescription medication during school hours, it should be dispensed by the school nurse.

5. Provide support. Offer praise and encouragement when your teen succeeds, whether at school or at home. A strong bond between you and your teen might help prevent your teen from abusing drugs.

6. Set a good example. Don't abuse drugs yourself.

Recognizing the warning signs of teen drug abuse

Be aware of possible red flags, such as:

 Sudden or extreme change in friends, eating habits, sleeping patterns, physical appearance, coordination or school performance  Loss of interest in hobbies or family activities  Hostile or uncooperative attitude  Secrecy about actions or possessions  Stealing money or an unexplained need for money  Medicine containers, despite a lack of illness, or drug paraphernalia in your teen's room  An unusual chemical or medicine smell on your teen or in your teen's room

Seeking help for teen drug abuse

If you suspect that your teen is abusing drugs, talk to him or her. Avoid accusations. Instead, ask your teen what's going on in his or her life and encourage him or her to be honest. If your teen admits to abusing drugs, let him or her know that you're disappointed. Enforce the consequences you've established and explain to your teen ways that he or she can help regain your lost trust, such as improving grades. If you think your teen is involved in significant drug use, contact a doctor, counselor or other health care provider who specializes in drug problems.

Remember, it's never too soon to start talking to your teen about drug abuse. The conversations you have today can help your teen make healthy choices in the future.

Source: The Mayo Clinic Staff Newsletter Teen smoking: 10 ways to keep teens smoke-free Want to prevent teen smoking? Understand why teens smoke and how to talk to your teen about cigarettes.

Teen smoking might begin innocently, but it can become a long-term problem. In fact, most adult smokers begin smoking as teenagers. Your best bet? Help your teen avoid taking that first puff. Follow these tips to help prevent teen smoking.

1. Set a good example-Teen smoking is more common among teens whose parents smoke. If you don't smoke, keep it up. If you do smoke, quit — now. The earlier you stop smoking, the less likely your teen is to become a smoker. Ask your doctor about ways to stop smoking.

In the meantime, don't smoke in the house, in the car or in front of your teen, and don't leave cigarettes where your teen might find them. Explain to your teen how unhappy you are with your smoking, how difficult it is to quit and that you'll keep trying until you stop smoking for good.

2. Understand the attraction- Teen smoking can be a form of rebellion or a way to fit in with a particular group of friends. Some teens begin smoking to control their weight. Others smoke to feel cool or independent.

Ask your teen how he or she feels about smoking and if any of your teen's friends smoke. Applaud your teen's good choices, and talk about the consequences of bad choices. You might also talk with your teen about how tobacco companies try to influence ideas about smoking — such as through advertisements or product placement in the movies that create the perception that smoking is glamorous and more prevalent than it really is.

3. Say no to teen smoking- You might feel as if your teen doesn't hear a word you say, but say it anyway. Tell your teen that smoking isn't allowed. Your disapproval will have more impact than you think. Teens whose parents set the firmest smoking restrictions tend to smoke less than do teens whose parents don't set smoking limits. The same goes for teens who feel close to their parents.

4. Appeal to your teen's vanity- Smoking isn't glamorous. Remind your teen that smoking is dirty and smelly. Smoking gives you bad breath and wrinkles. Smoking makes your clothes and hair smell, and it turns your teeth yellow. Smoking can leave you with a chronic cough and less energy for sports and other enjoyable activities.

5. Do the math - Smoking is expensive. Help your teen calculate the weekly, monthly or yearly cost of smoking a pack a day. You might compare the cost of smoking with that of electronic devices, clothes or other teen essentials.

6. Expect peer pressure - Friends who smoke can be convincing, but you can give your teen the tools he or she needs to refuse cigarettes. Rehearse how to handle tough social situations. It might be as simple as saying, "No thanks, I don't smoke." The more your teen practices this basic refusal, the more likely he or she will say no at the moment of truth.

7. Take addiction seriously - Most teens believe occasional smoking won't cause them to become addicted and that, if they become regular smokers, they can stop smoking anytime they want. Teens, however, can become addicted with intermittent and relatively low levels of smoking. Remind your teen that most adult smokers start as teens. Once you're hooked, it's tough to quit.

8. Predict the future - Teens tend to assume that bad things happen only to other people. Most teens think cancer, heart attacks and strokes occur only in the abstract. Use loved ones, friends, neighbors or celebrities who've been ill as reallife examples.

9. Think beyond cigarettes - Smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes (kreteks) and candy-flavored cigarettes (bidis) are sometimes mistaken as less harmful or addictive than are traditional cigarettes. Teens also often think that water pipe (hookah) smoking is safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kreteks, bidis and hookahs all carry health risks. Don't let your teen be fooled.

10. Get involved - Take an active stance against teen smoking. Participate in local and school-sponsored smoking prevention campaigns. Support efforts to make public places smoke-free and increase taxes on tobacco products. Your actions can help reduce the odds that your teen will become a smoker.

If your teen has already started smoking, avoid threats and ultimatums. Instead, find out why your teen is smoking — and discuss ways to help your teen quit. Avoiding or stopping smoking is one of the best things your teen can do for a lifetime of good health.

Source: The Mayo Clinic Staff Newsletter Underage drinking: Talking to your teen about alcohol The time to start talking to your teen about underage drinking is now. Follow these tips to help prevent underage alcohol use.

By Mayo Clinic Staff It's easy to underestimate how early underage drinking starts — sometimes even in the preteen years — as well as the amount of alcohol teens drink and the risks involved. Still, underage drinking isn't inevitable. You can encourage your teen to avoid alcohol by talking to him or her about the risks of underage drinking and the importance of making good decisions.

Why teens drink

Teens are particularly vulnerable to alcohol use. The physical changes of puberty might make your teen feel selfconscious and more likely to take risks — such as experiment with alcohol — to fit in or please others. Coping with stress and challenging transitions, such as going from middle school to high school, moving, or dealing with the effects of divorce, might also influence a teen to drink. Also, your teen might have trouble understanding that his or her actions can have harmful consequences.

Other risk factors include:

 Family problems, such as conflict or parental alcohol abuse  A history of childhood abuse or other major trauma  Behavior, school or mental health problems  Close friendships with teens who drink or use other drugs  Consequences of underage drinking

Whatever causes a teen to drink, the consequences might be the same. For example, underage drinking can lead to:

Alcohol-related fatalities. Alcohol-related accidents are a leading cause of teen deaths. Teen drownings, suicides and murders also have been linked with alcohol use.

Sexual activity. Teens who drink tend to become sexually active earlier and have sex more often than do teens who don't drink. Teens who drink are also more likely to have unprotected sex than are teens who don't drink.

School problems. Teens who drink tend to have more academic and conduct problems than do teens who don't drink.

Alcoholism. People who begin drinking as young teens are more likely to develop alcohol dependence than are people who wait until they're adults to drink.

Violent crime. Teens who drink are more likely to be hurt in a violent crime, such as rape, assault or robbery.

Research also shows that alcohol use might permanently distort a teen's mental development.

–  –  –

Teenage pregnancy can have a profound impact on a teen's life. Help your daughter understand the options, health risks and challenges ahead.

Teenage pregnancy can be one of the most difficult experiences a teenage girl ever faces. Understand how to support your daughter as she faces the consequences of teenage pregnancy.

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