Teens, Drugs & Alcohol: What Parents Should Know

Alyssa Rae is a 16 year old from Rochester, New York. She loves her friends, her sisters and thunderstorms.

I live in a very populated suburban town called Fairport. People from the suburban towns around us call us FairPOT. We have a huge potsmoking population. There is a lot of drinking that goes on as well. I wanted to talk to someone who has been deep into the drug and alcohol scene, so I talked to a girl who has been one of my closest friends, Steph. *

Alyssa:  How old were you when you first started?

Steph: 12

Alyssa: What about stopping?

Steph: It ended officially in the middle of tenth grade, so 15.

Alyssa: What was it about the drugs and alcohol that appealed to you?

Steph:  The high they gave me. Just a feeling different from reality. Especially when I started. I was going through some personal stuff.

Alyssa: How did you get the idea in the first place?

Steph: It wasn’t mine, it was my brother’s. He told me that if I did it with him he wouldn’t tell my mom that I was cutting myself, and that I wouldn’t tell her that he was smoking.

Alyssa: What things have you tried?

Steph: Beers and hard liquors, usually mixed drinks. Weed, prescription drugs, ecstasy and acid.

Alyssa: How did you manage to get away with it? Your parents had no idea?

Steph: For a while yes. I usually did it outside so I wouldn’t smell or at friends houses without [my parents] knowing. Once my parents got suspicious they looked at conversations on IM and found out.

Alyssa: What got them suspicious?

Steph: The way I was acting, and how I was never home anymore.

Alyssa: Looking back now, are you glad they found out?

Steph: Yeah, I am. Even though the first time they found out I still got away with doing it for a couple of months, I am still grateful because they ended up sending me some where that could help and I ended up making a lot of new friends. And [eventually] grew closer with my parents.

Alyssa: If you could give parents of teens and preteens advice on what to look for what would it be?

Steph: Signs of depression, loss of interest and not being home as much or a new group of friends.

Alyssa: How would you advise the parents to approach the situation?

Steph: To not gang up on them or make them feel guilty. To not sneak around behind their backs, but just calmly confront them. And try to help them instead of punishing them.

I think that parents need to be sensitive to invading privacy, for that will put the teen on the defensive, which puts the parent in a bad place for talking about things. If you calmly approach your teen the response will be way better than if you go up saying, “I read your diary and I am maaaaaadddd.” That will blow up in your face. You have to think about if someone did that to you how offended you would feel in a similar situation. Marijuana and alcohol are the most commonly used substances in high school and middle school. If you suspect your teen is using one of these just talk to them. Set rules that are fair, but make you feel comfortable.

I would like to say thank you to Steph. I couldn’t have done this without you. You are an amazing friend and such a huge help. You are also an inspiration to me and should be to many others for overcoming your problems with drugs among other things. Thank you for your help with this article, and life in general.

* Name has been changed to protect their privacy

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