Our guest blogger today is Kelsey Bender, a Cienga student and Youth Mentor with her school's YES Team. January 25-29th is National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Drug Fact Week. Our YES teams around Tucson worked to increase awareness with their peers, families and community members about underage drinking and drug use. We invited Kelsey to give us a teen's perspective on the issue of drugs and parents.
I have met a lot of parents, on both a casual and a professional level, but, no matter the circumstance, the concerns hardly vary. “How do I know if my child is using/abusing drugs? What do I do?” And honestly, it is hard to say, even as a double agent.
Children of all ages begin for a plethora of reasons, many I could not name, and it all depends on them. With who? With what? Where? How? While all are undeniably valuable questions, not one is more vital than “Why?” In order to understand such a question, a good place to start is becoming aware of the general signs of use, these could include anything from increase/decrease of social activity to mood swings or withdrawal. Also: sudden carelessness about personal hygiene, disinterest in hobbies, change in sleeping patterns, red/glassy eyes, and a sniffly nose. Then, by reaching the root of the issue, we can better nurture health and recovery.
Some adolescents who suffer from mental illnesses (such as anxiety or depression) turn to drugs as a coping method, while others do it as a result of peer pressure - primarily from close friends.
In this case, the solution isn’t always forcing them to be under your constant supervision, or smothering them in general.
In lieu of that, it is important to remember that bad choices do not make anyone a bad person; in fact, it is best to treat this situation with the utmost care, and approach your child in a manner than makes them feel safe and comfortable.
It is impossible to force someone to share (especially the truth), there has to be legitimate willingness to do so, and making your child feel like they’re on trial usually will not elicit those kinds of feelings! And be open with your child about the dangers of drug use, simultaneously while being honest yet not over-exaggerating; there are a variety of ways you can go about this, starting with a simple family meeting to attending awareness seminars!
All of these are viable options, and will hopefully educate your child on the dangers of these activities, while also encouraging your child to view you as someone they can rely on in times of need.
More about your Guest Blogger!
Kelsey Bender has been a member of the Cienega YES Club for three years, and a Youth Mentor for one! She graduates in 2017. She takes her coffee half and half, her favorite animal is a deer, she speaks fluent gibberish, and she can list 26 countries in alphabetical order. After graduation, she plans to study art education on the elementary level.