Iowa summertime is full of outdoor activities, longer days in the sun, and time with family and friends. Schools are out and youth, specifically teens have much more free time and lack of supervision. In addition there are summer holidays often accompanied by substances to help celebrate.
Teens have much more free time and lacks of programming during the day, with parents away at work teens have the ability to experiment and get into some potentially unsafe situations. On the average summer day, 11,000 teens have tried alcohol for the first time and approximately 4,500 youth have tried cigarettes of marijuana for the first time. While this may not seem like a big deal to some, substance abuse can lead to more risky behaviors such as drinking and driving, sexual activity, and aggressive tendencies. Also, the brain is still developing at this time in their life and alcohol affects the brain structure and function leading to potential learning and cognitive disabilities.
Some tips for parents to ensure their teens are not abusing substances and stay safe this summer are having open conversations with your teen about what substances do to the body and how it can negatively impact them. Another safety tip is to watch out for signs and trust your gut if you think your child is abusing substances, and ask them about it while providing helpful options. Teach your teen healthy relationships and help develop self-confidence which will help deter from drug use. Approximately two thirds of youth who abuse substances also have a mental health diagnosis, by being proactive and listening for their cry of help or aware of any behavioral changes you can lead teens away from substance abuse through professional care. Lastly, having your child involved in programs, camps, and clubs while also doing family related activities together keeps your child away from negative environments and enforces positive peer groups to be involved in while filling up any summer down time.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance abuse disorder and is seeking help, please call ASAC at (319)360-4611, email us at email@example.com or stop by as one of our ASAC offices during office hours.