Parent's Guide

(Management & Control)

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12. Grades 10-12

High school students are future-oriented and can engage in abstract thinking. They have an increasingly realistic understanding of adults. Young people therefore want adults to discuss their concerns and the ways they solve problems and make decisions. You may have a tremendous new opportunity to help your children at this age. At the same time, the teenagers continue to be group-oriented, and belonging to the group motivates much of their behavior and actions. During these years, young people often develop a broader outlook and become more interested in the welfare of others.

By the end of high school, your child should understand:

  • both the immediate and long-term physical effects of specific drugs;

  • the possibly fatal effects of combining drugs;

  • the relationship of drug use to other diseases and disabilities;

  • the effects of alcohol and other drugs on the fetus during pregnancy;

  • the fact that drug use is not a victimless crime;

  • the effects and possible consequences of operating equipment while using alcohol and other drugs;

  • the impact that drug use has on society;

  • the extent of community intervention resources.

You may want to focus on the potential long-term effects of alcohol and other drugs during these years: drugs can ruin your teen's chances of getting into college, being accepted by the military, or being hired for certain jobs. Your teen may also be impressed by the importance of serving as a good role model for a younger brother or sister.

Although young people long for independence, it is particularly important to keep them involved in the family and family activities. They should join the rest of the family for dinner regularly, be part of the family vacations, and remain part of the family routines.


Suggested Activities

  • Continue to talk with your teenager about alcohol and other drug use. Chances are your teen has friends who use alcohol and other drugs or knows people who do. Talk about how alcohol and other drug use threatens lives and may limit opportunities for the future.

  • Plan strategies to limit your teen's unsupervised hours at home and while you are at work. Researchers have found that lunchtime and 3:00-6:00 p.m. are periods teenagers are likely to experiment with alcohol and other drugs.

  • Encourage your teenager to work on behalf of a drug prevention program by being trained as a volunteer to answer hot-line calls or as a peer counselor.

  • Talk with your teenager about joining a sports club, drama club, arts and crafts center, or dance studio or about volunteering to work for a church group or community organization. The busier your teenager is, the less likely he or she is to be bored and to seek an outlet in alcohol or other drugs. Volunteer with your teenager, if you have the time.

  • Plan alcohol-and drug-free activities with other families during school vacations and major holidays, which can be high-risk idle times for teens.

  • Make sure your teen has access to up-to-date information on alcohol and other drugs and their effects. Make an effort to be informed about any new drugs that are popular, and know their effects.

  • Cooperate with other parents to make sure that the parties and social events your teenager attends are alcohol and drug-free. Some families choose to draw up a contract holding adults responsible for parties given in their homes; the contract specifies that all parties will be supervised and that there is to be no use of alcohol or other drugs.

  • Help plan community-sponsored drug-free activities such as alcohol and drug-free dances and other recreational activities such as "midnight basketball."

  • Talk with your teenager about the future. Discuss your expectations and your teenager's ambitions. Collect college or vocational catalogues for your teenager, and discuss different educational and career options. Plan a family outing to the local colleges and universities.

Young people use drugs for many reasons that have to do with how they feel about themselves, how they get along with others, and how they live. No one factor determines who will use drugs and who will not, but here are some predictors:

  • low grades or poor school performance;

  • aggressive, rebellious behavior;

  • excessive influence by peers;

  • lack of parental support and guidance;

  • behavioral problems at an early age.

Being alert to the signs of alcohol and other drug use requires a keen eye. It is sometimes hard to know the difference between normal teenage behavior and behavior caused by drugs. Changes that are extreme or that last for more than a few days may signal drug use.

Consider the following questions:

  • Does your child seem withdrawn, depressed, tired, and careless about personal grooming?

  • Has your child become hostile and uncoooperative?

  • Have your child's relationships with other family members deteriorated?

  • Has your child dropped his old friends?

  • Is your child no longer doing well in school- are grades slipping; is attendance irregular?

  • Has your child lost interest in hobbies, sports, and other favorite activities?

  • Have your child's eating or sleeping patterns changed?

Positive answers to any of these questions can indicate alcohol or other drug use. However, these signs may also apply to a child who is not using drugs but who may be having other problems at school or in the family. If you are in doubt, get help. Have your family doctor or local clinic examine your child to rule out illnesses or other physical problems.

Watch for signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia as well. Possession of common items such as pipes, rolling papers, small medicine bottles, eye drops, or butane lighters may signal that your child is using drugs.

Even when the signs are clearer, usually after the child has been using drugs for a time, parents sometimes do not want to admit that their child could have a problem. Anger, resentment, guilt, and a sense of failure as parents are common reactions.

If your child is using drugs, it is important to avoid blaming yourself for the problem and to get whatever help is needed to stop it. The earlier a drug problem is detected and faced, the more likely it is that your child can be helped.

First, do not confront a child who is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, but wait until the child is sober. Then discuss your suspicions with your child calmly and objectively. Bring in other members of the family to help, if necessary.

Second, impose whatever discipline your family has decided on for violating the rules and stick to it. Don't relent because the youngster promises never to do it again.

Many young people lie about their alcohol and drug use. If you think your child is not being truthful and the evidence is pretty strong, you may wish to have your child evaluated by a health professional experienced in diagnosing adolescents with alcohol and drug-related problems.

If your child has developed a pattern of drug use or has engaged in heavy use, you will probably need help to intervene. If you do not know about drug treatment programs in your area, call your doctor, local hospital, or community health center for a referral. Your school district should have a substance-abuse coordinator or a counselor who can refer you to treatment programs, too. Parents whose chidren have been through treatment programs can also provide information.

The most promising drug prevention programs are those in which parents, students, schools, and communities join together to send a firm, clear message that the use of alcohol and other drugs will not be tolerated.

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Did you know...

Drugs Desciptions and Effects

Select a drug from the drop down menu to get more information from THE PARTNERSHIP AT DRUGFREE.ORG :