During summer months, teenagers are at an increased risk to begin using drugs and alcohol. As we enter the month of June this week, we want to encourage parents to watch for warning signs of substance use and talk with their teens about the issue.

So what are the warning signs?

Signs of potential drug use could be revealed through changes in behavior, health, mood, appearance or other problems. Here are some warning signs to watch for:

  • Carelessness about personal appearance
  • Disinterest in hobbies, sports or other activities
  • A new group of friends
  • Irregular eating and sleeping patterns
  • Negative change in personal values
  • Significant mood changes (withdrawn, depressed, hostile, uncooperative/defiant, defensive)
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Stealing money, prescription medications or alcohol
  • Change in family relationships
  • Red and watery eyes or runny nose
  • Lies about where they are going or who they are with
  • Stays out late or past curfew

If you begin to notice several of these changes, have a conversation with your child about what may be affecting them and speak with your child’s doctor about the possibility of a physical exam.

How do you talk with your child about substance use?

Talking with teenagers about drugs or alcohol may seem daunting, but having open conversations with them will establish trust and helps to prevent substance abuse later on.

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids offers some tips to having meaningful conversations with your child:

  • Choose a good time and place, like a walk or drive after dinner.
  • Approach the talk with openness, active listening and “I” statements.
    • Ask open-ended questions, repeat back what they’re feeling, and express your concerns clearly.
  • Understand your influence as a parent and discuss the negative effects drugs may have on teens.
  • Offer empathy and support.
  • Remember that your teen’s brain is still developing.

Most importantly, remind your child that you love them and care about their safety and health.

For more about having serious conversations with teenagers, visit http://drugfree.org/article/how-to-talk-with-your-teen/.

To learn about prevention tips for every age, visit https://borndrugfreetn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Prevention-Tips-for-Every-Age.pdf.