High school: not a drug-free zone

By • Published: November 19th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

High school sure can be tough: Increasingly demanding classes, an obsession with appearance and the pressure to always be “cool” can get to even the most stoic teens.

Know what else your child might be facing in the halls of education? Drugs and alcohol — and not just the pressure to consume them later at a party.

According to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse, 86 percent of U.S. high schoolers say they have classmates who drink, smoke or do drugs during the school day. The report also shows that many teens do so at school. In addition, kids say drugs are present in 54 percent of private and 61 percent of public high schools.

These are discouraging statistics. But parents, try not to panic: there are things you can do to help prevent teen substance use.

Communicating strongly that drug, alcohol and tobacco use are taboo is one step. The researchers found that teens who knew their parents would be very upset by this behavior were significantly less likely to engage in it than teens with a different impression.

And teens who attended at least four religious services per month were more likely to report they’d never used substances than those who didn’t go to such events.

At least two factors increased the likelihood a teen reported any use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco. The first was ever having been left without adult supervision overnight. The second was whether they’d seen photos on social media sites of kids using drugs or alcohol.

Looks like old-fashioned parenting is best for keeping kids clean … even when their peers aren’t. Set clear rules that they refrain from drugs and alcohol and get them involved in activities at your church. Also, keep a close eye on them and monitor their media intake. It won’t be easy, nor is it foolproof … but it’s a good start.