3 Ways to Talk Addiction Awareness with Older Teens

A group of five smiling teenagers standing outdoors with their arms around each others' shoulders

Moving a child to college is an exciting time for parents and students. Moms and Dads begin the process of slowly letting go as young adults start stepping into more responsibilities and a journey toward finding their career paths. The future looks bright, but it can also be daunting and scary, especially when it comes to the possibilities of exposure to drugs and alcohol. Here are three tips to help them navigate independence and young adulthood.

Open Communication 

First, remember the importance of open communication and a non-judgmental environment for discussing the risks associated with drug experimentation, including alcohol, marijuana and prescriptions. Open communication with a parent or parents will be important throughout a teenagers life and they may look to other sources. Creating open dialogue might include conversations about people they can talk with, including trusted family members, friends or leaders on campus. The idea is to help young adults select people to confide in that will help guide them toward healthy choices.

In this case, caring is not always sharing

Second, parents and friends should encourage students to avoid sharing prescription medications and emphasize the significance of responsible medication use and the potential consequences of misuse. The pressures college students face to experiment with drugs, including legal substances like prescription medications, have become a growing concern. The stress of academic responsibilities, social pressures and the desire to fit in can contribute to an environment where students may be more inclined to try drugs. The availability of prescription drugs on campuses and the misconception that these medications are safe because they are legal can contribute to misuse.

One Pill Can Kill
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Third, research campus and other local accredited and certified professional resources, including counseling centers and other health services a teen might need. It’s important that these young minds not only find their way around campus and to the local grocery store, but parents and loved ones also want to encourage them to take care of their mental health.

Dr. Sara Coffey, associate clinical professor and interim chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences highlights the importance of purposeful communication and education for families and communities.

 “Substance use disorders impact families across Oklahoma; treatment works and recovery is possible. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When our families and communities educate and inform our young people about the risks of substance use, we can help to create healthier individuals, families and communities.”

Knowledge is Power

It’s hard to accept that kids might not come to parents with everything, but even if they did, the adults in their lives might not be equipped to handle the “everything” a teen needs. Empowering students with knowledge, fostering a supportive network and teaching them to connect with appropriate resources are essential to addressing the complex issue of drug experimentation and opioid misuse on college campuses.

Contact the NCWR Addiction Recovery Clinic at OSU at 918-561-1890 to schedule an appointment. In case of a medical emergency, please call 911. For immediate and confidential emotional support, please call 988 to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

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