Recent polls taken of teenagers in the ninth to twelfth grade range show that 50 percent of them feel its okay to experiment with crack, cocaine or heroin once or twice. Another study reports that more teens die annually from prescription medication than they do from cocaine and heroin combined. This trend has been increasing for several decades in large part due to the accessibility of these drugs. Over 50 percent of high school teens report that they know where to find hard drugs like amphetamines, opiates, and cocaine even if they haven’t used them. This statistic alone means that a large majority of teens will be pressured to use a hard drug at some point during their high school years. Teaching them to understand the dangers of these substances and how to say no gracefully is vital knowledge that will inevitably be needed.
Types of Hard Drugs Teens Are Likely to Encounter
Those studies and polls that we talked about above also went into detail about the most common drugs teens are offered or pressured to try. The statistics are quite telling. One poll asked teens what types of drugs they had used over the past year and prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin came in at 10 percent, prescription opiates like Oxycontin and Percocet came in at 9.5 percent, and illicit drugs like cocaine and hallucinogens were at a solid 5 percent. Heroin, with the fewest reported cases, still hovered around 1 percent. Looking at the numbers, you can see that strong prescription drugs make up the greatest threat. This is due to the relative ease with which teens can acquire these drugs. However, you shouldn’t overlook the risk that illegal substances pose to teenage kids. They are also easily obtainable, and your teen will probably have to say “no” at least once during high school. So, it’s important to teach them how to avoid peer pressure in a way that they can relate to and use without feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
How to Say “No” Gracefully
The most important thing to teach a teenager is to be confident in their beliefs. This may go without saying, but it’s vital that you reinforce this fact, and show them how to deal with potential situations. A good method that works well with confidence is for the teen to just be honest about their stance on drugs. Saying something simple like, “I’m not into that stuff,” or “I’ve got more important things to do,” in a strong manner can end the subject quickly and easily.
Some teens are shy or not sure of themselves. For them, it may be tough to remain strong in the face of peer pressure. This isn’t a negative thing, but they should approach it in a different manner. Giving a plausible excuse can work well. “I can’t stay, I’ve got plans with later,” can be effective and even “that stuff makes me sick,” works well in certain situations. The key is to give them a reason to leave. Hanging out longer will only allow peer pressure to build.
Giving teens the tools and knowledge to avoid peer pressure and to understand the dangers of hard substances is vital for keeping them drug-free. If your teen is using or in danger of using drugs, call our helpline now at 800-447-9081, and let us show you how to keep them safe.