The bridge between childhood and adolescence is a difficult road…
In today’s American culture, teenage drinking and drug use is often seen as an undesirable yet unavoidable right of passage for a young adult who is eager to experiment and push the boundaries. However, what appears at first to be a cultural “norm” can often have long lasting or even fatal consequences. Physical injury, overdose, high-risk sexual behavior, intoxicated or impaired driving, health problems, and suicide attempts are all linked to alcohol and drug abuse in teens. A 2015 study showed that a third of 18 to 24-year old’s who were admitted to emergency rooms after sustaining severe injuries were under the influence of alcohol. Even putting aside, the physical risk a teen is exposing themselves to by engaging in drugs or alcohol, underage drinking and all illicit drugs are illegal, so the chance of encountering legal problems or even arrest is greatly increased, jeopardizing a teen’s future academic and occupational success.
Parents may have no problem understanding why their teen should avoid drugs and alcohol, but for a student, it may be a bit more complex. Peer pressure, especially in today’s culture of social media and instant exposure, is a motivating force to just try to “fit in” with one’s peer group. A teen may be reluctant to be labeled as a “try-hard” or goody two shoes when confronted in the moment. The bridge between childhood and adolescence is a difficult road, and it may prove too challenging to go against the flow of what everyone else seems to be doing. Without a supportive peer group that shares similar values and views about the pitfalls of alcohol and drug abuse, a teen may feel alone and unprepared to face the rejection that could come with saying “No!”.
Peace of Mind
A program such as ProTeen gives both parents and teens an anchor of hope that the waters of adolescence and early adulthood CAN be navigated without the pull of drug and alcohol addiction. By giving parents peace of mind that their child isn’t abusing harmful substances, communication can happen without suspicion or intense emotion. Talking to their child from a place of compassion and understanding may help parents gain his or her trust and respect so that the parent can continue to educate their teen about the dangers of alcohol and drugs without engaging in condescending lectures. By setting boundaries early on about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior for their family, parents communicate genuine concern for their child’s physical and emotional well-being, even though to a teen attempting to spread their wings a bit, this may be hard to understand. Parents can also help support a program like ProTeen’s success with their family by modeling responsible alcohol use or abstaining completely. Our children are watching us, and a “do as I say but not as I do” approach rarely proves to be effective.
A Good Excuse
ProTeen helps teenagers by giving them a compelling reason to say no to drugs and alcohol. It is much easier to tell a friend, “I will lose my car if my parents find out I smoked that!”, or “If I get busted by failing my drug screen I am out for the rest of the season!” than to have to come up with an excuse in front of a crowded party. Another compelling reason for participating in a program like ProTeen speaks to where it counts – the pocketbook! Teens who may not have the financial resources to deal with medical or legal bills that could result from drug or alcohol use would probably agree that an affordable monthly subscription plan is a pittance compared to attorney’s fees. Participation in ProTeen could also serve as a connecter between students and reinforce a peer group who could celebrate incentives together and support each other’s efforts. Imagine the culture change that could happen if it was once again seen as “cool” to find ways to avoid drugs and alcohol, rather than contribute to their abuse!
…a third of 18 to 24-year old’s who were admitted to emergency rooms after sustaining severe injuries were under the influence of alcohol.
The primary purpose of a drug testing tool such as ProTeen is preventative and is meant to be a huge deterrent for even beginning to participate in drug or alcohol abuse. By giving our community educational resources, tools, and talking points, ProTeen seeks to help not only parents and families, but teachers, law enforcement, and society as a whole by decreasing the number of kids who are struggling with drugs and alcohol. Unscheduled drug testing keeps teens on their toes and gives them that extra incentive they need to resist peer pressure in the moment. By involving a third party such as ProTeen, parents have an ally to understanding what their teens might be faced with at school, in the media, and in the world when it comes to drugs and alcohol. For further information and for drug and alcohol abuse statistics, please visit the following websites:
DoSomething.orgProjectKnow.comPartnership for Drug-free Kids