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Recommendations for managing teen drug abuse

Drug abuse. Photo/Pixabay


Teens try drugs for many reasons that range from curiosity, peer pressure, availability of drugs, genetic predisposition and stress. They often do not start using drugs with the plan to get addicted but addiction cannot be predicted or planned for, it is a brain disease. As their brain is still developing, it increases their risk of getting addicted.

While drug abuse cuts across all parts of the society, social class, age and gender, it has led more young people into making the wrong choices due to poor education about the negative impact drugs have on the individual and the society at large.

For Counselling Psychologist, Aisha Abdullahi Bubah, there is a saying that goes that the best way to manage drug addiction is to not start at all. Teen experimental drug use has the potential to grow into adult drug addiction and problems in many areas of one’s life. Teen drug use can be prevented from multiple levels- the family, school and society at large.

From the family level:
Parents play a key role in preventing teen drug use. Parents should model positive behaviour, which makes it easier for their children to adopt. They should try to avoid use of legal drugs like cigarettes and alcohol frequently in front of their kids, as it exposes them to drugs at an early stage and increases their chances of using.

Bubah said that parents can have an open conversation with their kids about social issues, which include drug abuse, and how it affects the individuals involved negatively. It also helps further if parents can do some factual research on drug abuse so they can be able to provide accurate answers to questions their wards may have about drug abuse.

“Ask your teens what they know about drugs and address any concerns they may have. Also, knowing the risk factors for teen drug abuse can help parents identify any warning signs they may notice in their wards. Open communication in a family also allows the children to freely communicate about issues/stressors they may be faced with. They also become more likely to open up whenever they get peer-influenced or exposed to drugs.”

She said that setting clear rules and boundaries about drug abuse can also help keep your wards safe when faced with drugs. For example, what to do when they go to an event and their friends are using drugs, what they need to do and consequences of breaking the rule.

“When you suspect that your teen is doing drugs, there are steps you can take towards managing it. Try to remain calm as you talk to them. If you are able to identify the signs early, it betters the chance of helping your teen. Try to make an appointment with a professional counselor or therapist to have a conversation with your ward. There are also drug testing kits that can be used to check the kind of drugs they have taken, which will decide the next course of treatment.”

On the School level:
Bubah said there are steps to also prevent drug abuse amongst students. Drugs education can help keep the students enlightened about issues related to drug abuse. A school counselor can also serve as a good support system for students faced with stressors like academic pressures, behavioural and emotional difficulties, and other life stressors.

On the Society level:
Everyone plays a major role in curbing drug abuse in the society. Teen drug abuse can be enabled through our interactions with them in the society. Selling legal drugs like alcohol, cigarettes and shisha to under-aged kids will only enable their experimental use. This is something we need to control as members of the society. Teen drug abuse can be managed if we pay more attention to the things that our teens are involved in and what we portray in the media that can also influence drug use.

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