Summer is always a favorite season for many people. It’s the time that you can finally put your winter clothes away, bask in the sunshine, and enjoy outdoor activities. For teenagers, this is also the time to relax from academics and pursue other interests. However, the shift in their daily routine can also expose them to harmful habits. In fact, according to data released by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), teen drug use skyrockets during the summer months. Studies have shown that teenagers are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol during the months of June and July.
If you are a parent or a loved one of a teenager, monitoring their activities 100% can be really difficult. No amount of warning can guarantee that they will actually heed your advice and avoid these harmful substances. So, what can you do to lessen the chances of your teenage relative from being addicted to drugs and alcohol? There is no single solution to this question, but one thing that could definitely help is by keeping them busy. Boredom is often one reason why kids and teens try out illicit substances. Adolescents are naturally curious and for lack of a better thing to do, they seek out these damaging substances and this can be very easy especially with social media.
Here are some suggestions that you can do to help a teen family member keep away from substance use.
1. Enroll them in a new sport or a class
It is very unfortunate that even children as young as 10 years old are already being exposed to drug use. It is then very important to develop their interests in other healthier pursuits such as sports as early as you can. The great thing about sports is that it trains them to be physically fit and active.
Team sports like basketball, football, soccer, and baseball will not only be beneficial for their physique but will also teach them teamwork, discipline, and many other values. There are also individual sports such as swimming, track, tennis, and martial arts that they can participate in.If your child is not very athletic, they can try pursuing music, art, cooking, theatre, and many other classes.
2. Fill their calendar with activities that are less likely to involve drugs and alcohol
You cannot stop your children from trying out drugs and alcohol just by preventing them from going out and partying entirely. By constantly telling them NO whenever they ask if they can attend a party or go to a sleepover, you may just be brewing a rebellion right under your own roof. Understand that locking them away from their friends simply will not work and could backfire sooner or later.
Instead of just isolating teens, it is better to suggest activities that they may enjoy with their friends. You can speak with your fellow parents and plan these activities such as organizing a pool party, hosting a barbecue, a trip to the theme park, going to ball games, and more. The more activated they are, the less likely they become attracted to illegal substances.
3. Encourage them to get a summer job
If your kid is old enough, it may be beneficial to recommend that they get a summer job. This will not only keep them occupied, but they also get to earn extra cash. Help them find something that they are interested in so they will not resent the job and quit.
For younger teens, you can “hire” them to do stuff around the house like gardening, washing the car, babysitting or mowing the lawn. Don’t immediately pay out their fees as they may use this to buy alcohol or cigarettes, instead, give them the entire amount at the end of the summer and take them shopping so they can use the money to buy what they are saving up for.
4. Travel with them
Summer is the best time to have a vacation with your kids and spend time with them. This is also the time to speak with them and learn whether they are encountering any problems such as bullying or school struggles. It is very important for parents to show their children that they are valued. Children who feel that they are loved and supported are less likely to develop anger, resentment, and depression, which may push them towards substance abuse.
Traveling with your children is a great bonding experience. You do not need to go to a super expensive trip if that is outside your budget. Just make sure you ask your children what they would enjoy rather than just bringing them to what you feel is enjoyable.
Encouraging your kids to volunteer for a good cause is always a meaningful way for them to spend their time. You can have them volunteer in a local orphanage, in a community learning center or in a soup kitchen. If you have the means, you can even send them out of the country for volunteer projects in different parts of the world. There are many volunteer abroad programs in which they can travel, immerse themselves in a new culture, and at the same time, help make a difference in the lives of others.
If your loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available today. Contact Anaheim Lighthouse to learn more about our specialized modes of treatment.