Alcohol and Marijuana… Not My Kids! | Health

Alcohol and Marijuana... Not My Kids

No parent wants to believe their kid is a party animal at the age of 13, 15 or even 17. But, is it naive to think that your teenager hasn’t had a drink?

In a new, national poll conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, only 10% of parents said they believe their teenagers (ages 13-17) have used alcohol in the last year.  Even fewer, 5 percent, thought their kids had used marijuana during that same time period.

Compare that to what teenagers admit and it’s a wake-up call.  In the latest study by Monitoring the, 52% of 10th graders reported drinking in the last year and 28% reported using marijuana.  

“There’s a clear mismatch between what parents are reporting in terms of their children’s possible use of substances and what teenagers report themselves,” says Bernard Biermann, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Director of the Child/Adolescent Inpatient Unit at the University of Michigan.

Another very interesting finding, at least 40% of parents believe other teenagers are more likely to drink and smoke pot than their own.

“…If parents acknowledge the possibility – and in fact, the likelihood – that their child may have experimented with or used alcohol or marijuana, they can begin to talk to them more about it, provide some guidance, and allow their kids to ask questions,” says Biermann.

Here are 5 tips to open the door to communication:

1. Talk to your teenager about substance use in a non-threatening way.

2. Carefully monitor teens when they come home and look for signs of substance use.

3. Try not to overreact to a single instance of substance use. Instead, use the opportunity to talk to your teen in a non-judgmental way and be available as a resource for resisting peer pressure.

4. Talk with your teen’s friends and talk with other parents. Sometimes others will share information that your own child won’t.

5. Read information from resources such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to become educated about common signs and symptoms of substance abuse.

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