START WITH THIS
Parenting isn’t easy. The changes our kids go through seem to happen in the blink of an eye. So how can we prepare our teens to make good choices? Short of a magic wand, parents can learn about strategies to help their kids feel good about themselves and connect with meaningful activities, both proven to reduce the likelihood they will use drugs or drink alcohol.
GET THE FACTS
Most teenagers drink and smoke, right?
Wrong. With images of alcohol and drugs virtually everywhere, from the billboards we drive by, to the books and magazines we read, in the shows and movies we watch, and all over social media, it’s easy to make this assumption. But the fact is, most teens just aren’t using drugs and alcohol like you think.
- Did you know that most teens do NOT drink or smoke on a regular basis? Hard to believe, we know. But this has been confirmed year after year by the California Healthy Kids Survey, the largest statewide student survey of resiliency, protective factors, risk behaviors, and school climate in the state. Of the high school students surveyed in 2017 – 18 in South OC – the data shows that:
- 82% did not drink alcohol in the past 30 days
- 85% did not use marijuana in the past 30 days
- 80% did not use vapes/e-cigs in the past 30 days
Right now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute. That can’t be right. It seems like teens are drinking and smoking more than that!” It’s precisely this thought process that’s feeding these misperceptions with regard to teenage alcohol and drug use. Fortunately, we don’t need to rely on such misperceptions when we have reliable data from an anonymous and confidential survey of 82,000 students in California.
Here is what we hear from teens about why they don’t drink or smoke:
- I don’t like the way it tastes.
- I don’t like the way it makes me feel.
- I don’t want to get drunk, lose control, and/or do something I may regret.
- It is not good for my health, brain, body, teeth, breath, etc.
- Alcohol, drugs, and tobacco are another thing to waste money on.
- Alcohol has a lot of calories; smoking marijuana gives you the munchies.
- I don’t want to get addicted to anything and/or my family has a history of addiction.
- I don’t want drinking or smoking to affect my grades, my college prospects, or my career.
- I don’t like the idea that drinking or smoking is the only way to have a good time.
- It is illegal to drink or smoke if you’re under 21.
- My parents don’t want me to, and I want to respect their wishes.
- I genuinely have no interest.
Instead of drinking and smoking, South OC teens are actually:
- Doing their homework and studying hard so they can do well in school.
- Involved in social causes, active in their church, or helping their neighbors because they care and want to make a difference.
- Expressing themselves through art, writing, dancing, acting, or filmmaking.
- Playing sports.
- Exercising, eating healthy foods, and taking care of their bodies.
- Hanging out with their friends.
Talk to your teen about what’s really going on. Our Parent Resource Guide can provide tips to start the conversation.