More teenagers try marijuana for the first time during the summer months than during any other season, according to a newly released report by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The report finds a 40 percent increase in first-time marijuana use among teens during June and July.
Other risky substances may tempt teens during the summer as well. The same study reports that the number of youth cigarette and alcohol users also rises when school is out.
Parents can help prevent teen drug use during the summer, says John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy. “By keeping teens busy, knowing who they’re with and making sure they’re supervised, parents can help prevent their teen’s summer from going to pot,” he says.
What Parents Can Do
The National Drug Control Policy Office has a Web site (www.TheAntiDrug.com/SchoolsOut/) specifically designed to help parents keep their kids drug-free during the summer. Among the tips suggested are:
• Set clear rules and enforce them. Discuss curfews and other responsibilities with your teen at the beginning of the summer. Make sure that you’re both clear on the guidelines and the consequences. At the same time, don’t focus solely on the negative; remember to accentuate the positive by praising your teen’s healthy choices.
• Watch out for your teens. You don’t need to put a homing device on them, but it’s not unreasonable to insist that you know where they are, whom they’re with, what they’re doing and how you can reach them.
• Talk to your teen. Keep open lines of communication with your child. Information about illegal drugs is important, but adolescents are more apt to act wisely on that information if they have an open, supportive relationship with their parents.
What Teens Can Do to Stay Drug-Free this Summer
There are many things your adolescents can do this summer to stay drug-free:
• Get a job.
• Learn a new sport. Private organizations, and perhaps your town’s parks and recreation department, offer lessons for all ages.
• Take a summer course at a local school.
• Help out. Learn more about volunteer opportunities, especially for those teens who may still be too young for a paying summer job.
Get More Help
For more information about drug-proofing your kids during the summer, visit the National Drug Control Policy’s Web site referenced above.
For more information about helping your teen get that first summer job, check out the tips and advice in: That First Summer Job: How to Help Your Teen Get It and Make the Most of It