Teenagers are at a crossroads, facing widespread use and availability of drugs and alcohol – especially in the spring where they find themselves enjoying prom and graduation parties.
Every day, 2500 teenagers use a prescription drug to get high for the first time. And alcohol use remains extremely widespread among today’s teenagers. Nearly 72 percent of students have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, and more than 37 percent have done so by eighth grade.
One bad decision can impact their entire future and parents should intervene now before an irreversible choice has been made.
Unison Behavioral Health Group has launched their spring prom and graduation campaign, and urges parents and caring adults to participate. The “Just Don’t” campaign is designed to increase awareness of alcohol and drug use, misuse and abuse during prom and graduation months of April through June, when one-third of alcohol-related fatalities involving teens occur.
Dr. Larry E. Hamme, Unison’s Chief Clinical Officer, encourages parents to intervene, even when it seems like your teen does not care. “Based on the stage of their brain development, adolescents are more likely to act on impulse, misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions, get into accidents of all kinds, get involved in fights and engage in dangerous or risky behavior,” Dr. Hamme said. “We also know that adolescents are less likely to think before they act, pause to consider the potential consequences of their actions and modify their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors.”
The teenage brain is different and being aware of these differences can help parents and concerned adults manage the behavior of adolescents.
Dr. Hamme reminds parents that “Seventy-four percent of kids ages 8-17 said their parents are the leading influence on their decisions about drinking and using drugs.”
What can you do?
• Pledge to do everything in your power to understand and communicate with your children about the many difficult and potentially destructive decisions they face.
• Agree to provide safe, sober transportation home if they are ever in a situation that threatens their safety and to defer discussions about that situation until a time when you can both have a discussion in a calm and caring manner.
• Pledge to your child that you will not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, always seek safe, sober transportation home, and always wear a seatbelt.
Professionals and family members who are concerned about a child’s behavior and suspect a mental health condition and/or substance abuse, can obtain confidential support by calling Unison Behavioral Health Group at 419-693-0631.
Information on Unison’s prom and graduation campaign can found by visiting the agency’s website at www.unisonbhg.org.