If you're a parent of a teen, you hope you're doing all you can to insure your child has the best start on life, but, you may find yourself wondering, how can peer group influence drug abuse?
Understanding How Peer Group Influence Drug Abuse
It's a fact indeed that birds of a feather do flock together. If a teen surrounds themselves with peers who experiment with or abuse drugs, it's only a matter of time before they decide to try, or worse, become a frequent abuser of the drugs themselves.
Teens experience a multitude of internal battles, from the struggles of fitting in and finding friends, peer pressure to the changes in their bodies, puberty, and questions about sexuality. These changes begin to take root during a vulnerable and impressionable time. This vulnerability creates an open door for drugs and alcohol to enter if a teen is exposed to them. Peer pressure is a very real problem that affects most kids at one time or another. Without a strong support system combined with structure and parental guidance, a teen can easily fall off track and find themselves hanging with the wrong pack.
Being part of the crowd and finding acceptance from other teens is an everyday struggle for most kids. If you're a teen struggling to make friends and find acceptance for your own individuality, it may be hard to turn down the temptations of drugs and alcohol. If your peers are abusing substances and asking you to join in, or if they threaten you to partake in their activities, it's time to speak to an adult about the situation. Don't worry about the consequence; doing the right thing is always best in the end. Friends that expect you to abuse your body or mind are not your friends. Rely on adult intervention to get you through these difficult times, and steer clear of kids who pressure you to live that lifestyle.
A Watchful Eye
If you're a parent or guardian of a teen, you've most likely begun preparing yourself for the pressures and stress of teen relationships. Every parent fears for their children and their safety, and there is no denying that teens can find themselves in a circle of temptations and uncomfortable situations at any given time. When kids form friendships within social circles at school, it may be hard for a working parent to keep a watchful eye on the friendships and behaviors of the teen group. Stereotyping kids has gone by the wayside, as the preppiest sport enthused child could just as easily be involved in drugs as the child from the wrong side of the tracks.
Keeping a watchful eye on your teen and their extra curricular activities will help clue you in on any type of drug or alcohol abuse before it becomes habitual. With most drug abuse taking place off campus, there's a few things you can do to keep a healthy tab on your teen's social circle:
- Keep an eye on your teens friends.
- Speak with teachers and school counselors.
- Stay involved with after school activities and open up your home for gatherings.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of drugs.
- Avoid threats.
- Provide a home rich with activities, laughter and games.
- Listen without punishment.
- Know the parents of your teen's friends.
- Take weekend trips and getaways and bring your teen for fun.
- Never forget to say I love you.
No amount of parental involvement is too much. Try not to nag your teen, but stay focused and involved in their daily activities. Communicate. Make time for sensitive discussions and share feelings in an open setting. Let your teen know you support them and encourage their independence. Warn them of the dangers of peer pressures and drug abuse, and listen when they share their experiences and feelings.
Boredom: Nowhere to Turn
Why do teens abuse drugs and alcohol? For many, the answer is simple: boredom. Others may grow up in an environment where drugs and alcohol are accepted and abused. The hidden dangers of drug accepting households are extreme. Quickly, parents lose their authority and become "ghost" parents, offering little guidance and setting extremely poor examples. Without a leader in the pack, the child can easily go astray and run rampant. Sadly, most kids who grow up in addictive homes end up drug abusers. The pressure in these types of homes is fierce, and most teens succumb to the lifestyle feeling that there is no alternative.
If you have a concern about how peer group influence drug abuse, or a question about family problems, it is crucial that you meet with a substance abuse counselor or guidance counselor. It is never too late to intervene. If you notice signs and symptoms of drug abuse, immediately discuss the issue with your child and seek professional help. Remember, children need parents to set limits and stay involved.