By Britta Bartlett, Substance Use Counselor at Oyster River High School
Our world of constant stimulation, accessibility, and immediacy has created more difficulties with parenting and understanding adolescents’ needs today, particularly concerning substance use and addictive behaviors.
There seems to be a shift in parenting attitudes as our children age – tolerance and patience diminish while expectations of our adolescents increase. If we can provide adolescents with similar levels of understanding and compassion extended to younger children, we create more opportunities for them to feel safe, and recognize that their parents can be trusted adults. This leaves more space for them to share their challenges and stressors – including if they are engaging in substance use – and to seek guidance around it.
It is essential to be aware of the signs and risks, and to acknowledge your own beliefs around substance use. Important strategies for parents include understanding your adolescent’s social circle; engaging in ongoing conversations about mental health and substance use; and working to communicate effectively with your adolescent.
Start a conversation with your child – ideas and resources to help are included below.
Additional resources to help educate your family on substance use: