As kids enter their teenage years, they tend to gravitate more toward friends. Oftentimes, this growing independence is associated with acting out and other negative behaviors. In the worst cases, teen years can be riddled with drug and alcohol use.
The earlier teens get into drugs, the worse impact it can have on their life and health. It can be easy to blame their friends, but the truth is that teens gravitate toward others with the same interests.
Here’s what you can do if your teen’s friends use drugs.
Talk About Drugs Early
Don’t wait until you see signs of drug use before addressing the topic with your child. Start the talk about drugs early. From a young age, discuss prescription drugs and how they can help people, appropriate vs inappropriate drug use, and the dangers of drug use. Have honest conversations, without exaggerating.
As your child ages, explain the rules you have when it comes to drug and alcohol use. Sadly, more teens report punishment for grades than drug use. Make it clear what the consequences are for drug use.
Guarding Kids Against the Influence of Friends
Teens tend to gravitate toward others with similar interests and values, but many kids change drastically upon entering high school. Friends your teen had in middle school may start going down the wrong path, and in an attempt to stay friends, good kids can get sucked into bad behavior.
It can be tempting to try to ban your teen from certain friends or to constantly bring up the negatives of those friends, but it will not help. Trying to control your child’s friendships will only lead to them pushing you away. To help your teen make responsible decisions and avoid the negative influence of friends, discuss the matter early on. Talk about what makes a good friend, ways to say no to friends, and ways to make new friends. Get your teen involved in other positive activities (sports, volunteering, church groups, other hobbies) so that their focus and time is toward something positive.
Finding out your teen’s friends do drugs or drink alcohol can be worrying. Of course, you don’t want your child going down a bad path. The best thing you can do is start the conversation and education about drugs early and set your boundaries before you deal with friends that use drugs. Teach your child how to handle peer pressure, and help them get involved in beneficial activities.