The rate of prescription drug abuse has risen nearly 33% from 2008 – specifically stimulants. These stimulants cover a wide range of drugs, both legal and illegal, and are used to boost energy, increase focus and enhance physical activity. The stimulant category includes legal drugs such as: Prescription amphetamines (Adderall & Ritalin), Ephedrine, nicotine, and even caffeine. Illegal stimulants include: Methamphetamines, Cocaine and crack.
One of the main reasons that teen stimulant use is so high is that some people believe it is okay to use them. 26% of teens think stimulants can be taken as a study aid, while about 33% of parents believe improvements can be made academically by taking medication – even if the child doesn’t have ADHD. Another reason is the pressure to do well in school. Since a large percentage of teens (and their parents) think that prescription stimulants aid in academic improvements, they believe that these stimulants will help them do better in school. However, while prescription stimulants do improve the ability to focus, they don’t make the student any smarter. Also, since a large number of teens have low self-esteem, stimulants are often abused as a weight-loss aid.
The role of parents is to be there for their child to turn to, instead of them resorting to drugs. Talking to children about the dangers of drugs has been proven to decrease the likelihood of use. Stimulants specifically need to be addressed, as they tend to be overlooked – 80% of teens say they have discussed marijuana and alcohol use with their parents, while only 14% have discussed stimulant abuse.
Ways to encourage teens to decline when offered stimulants
- Simply talking to teens is the first place to start. Discussing the dangers and effects makes them aware of the risks. Another thing is to set a zero-tolerance policy. If they know the dangers as well as how their parents feel, they are more likely to decline drug offers.
- Teaching teens coping skills to manage stress is another way to help them. Discuss healthy ways to manage stress such as exercise, yoga, etc. Let them know that they have support and help them in different ways. Knowing they have help gives them an outlet, rather than turning to stimulants.
- Another helpful tool is role-playing. Setting up scenarios and acting them out with teens gives them an idea of what they could face. It also helps them know what to do in the real life situations.
- Being aware of your teen’s friends is extremely important. If the parents suspect the friends of using drugs, they should let the teen know that negative influences are going to lead to trouble, and that they don’t have to do drugs to fit in. Knowing their parents are keeping an eye out for strange behavior may help deter stimulant use.
- Discussing their own history of drug use can be positive as well. If the parents never used, they can explain how they turned down offers. If they did use, they can explain consequences. Both experiences give them techniques to use to decline offers.
There are also other ways to teach teens how to react if they are offered drugs. These are just some of the easier ones. Being prepared makes it that much easier to decline stimulant offers. For other methods, tips or questions, the helpline at 800-890-3586 is always available for assistance.