Many parents worry about their children getting tangled up in drugs or alcohol as pre-teens cross the threshold into full blown teenager-land.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens face a flurry of challenges and changes between the ages of 14 – 16 when hormones are kicking in and peer temptations are at their highest.
“We found obvious signs that our 14-year-old son was smoking marijuana,” a local parent who asked to remain anonymous said. “We don’t want to scare him away from being honest with us, however we aren’t willing to allow him to go down that road.”
The concerned parent went on to say that she found drug paraphlia and a small amount of marijuana tucked away in a drawer after she became suspicious about changes in his behavior.
Experts advise parents to keep a close eye on their kids and to routinely check their dressers, closets, pockets and cabinets.
If kids do get into trouble with law enforcement due to illegal drugs or alcohol, they will most likely be placed into drug programs and will be closely monitored by a probation officer.
“The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department wants to work with the youth and their family members to ensure that drug issues can be addressed before the young minds of our communities lose sight of basic decency,” Deputy Albert Martinez said.
Most drug counselors agree that it is critical to stay in tune with your child and to be direct with them if substance abuse is suspected.
Here are some signs to look for if you suspect your child is dabbling in drugs or alcohol:
- Unusual mood swings.
- Drastic change in selection of friends.
- Friendships where there is little parental supervision in the home.
- Unusually distracted.
- Unusually hostile or arrogant attitude toward family members or authority figures.
- Fixations with music, video games, and TV programs promoting drugs and violence.
- Withdrawal from the family as a unit and preferring to be in seclusion when at home.
Deputy Martinez said another good way to get support regarding kids and drug use is to seek assistance from the schools they attend.
“Schools can provide you with a host of resources that may include referring you to a school counselor, law enforcement resource officer, Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or county mental health professional,” Martinez explained.
The American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a survey in 2010 to determine how honest kids would be when asked if they were using drugs.
The results showed teens were 52 percent more likely to test positive for cocaine in their hair samples than they were to report using cocaine on the questionnaires.
The AAP added that parents also underidentified their teens’ drug use, leading researchers to believe that methods of testing other than self- or parent-reporting should be considered when estimating teen drug-use prevalence.
Stephanie D. Schulte is a writer/photographer with SWRNN. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.