Caron experts share tips for families on creating a safe and healthy environment for adolescents and young adults during the holidays
Wernersville, PA (December 7, 2017) – The holidays can be risky for teenagers and young adults with easy access to alcohol and prescription drugs at the homes of friends and family and ample time to experiment, warns Caron Treatment Centers, one of the nation’s leading not-for-profit addiction treatment and behavioral healthcare providers. In fact, the 2017 holiday season may be one of the most dangerous in recent history: Teens and young adults remain at high risk for substance use disorders, as shown by the alarming rate of underage binge drinking, increasing rate of opioid-related youth hospitalizations, and the impact of permissive marijuana messaging as the drug becomes more widely available and the perception of risk declines. However, there are simple strategies for supporting teens and young adults as they navigate the holiday season.
“There’s a tendency to minimize issues related to teen and young adult substance use because many people think it’s a normal rite of passage,” said Tammy Granger, Vice President of Education at Caron Treatment Centers. “However, research shows that teens who use substances are significantly more likely to become addicted as they get older.”
Some alarming facts about substance use in this demographic:
- 37.9 percent of college students ages 18–22 report binge drinking in the past month
- Teen marijuana use causes a drop in IQ and a decline in decision-making skills
- Young adults between the ages of 18-25 are at the highest risk of opioid overdose
- Teens prescribed opioids before senior year are 2.7 times more likely to use opioids recreationally
- More than 90 percent of adolescents and young adults list marijuana as one of their drugs of choice when admitted for addiction treatment at Caron Treatment Centers
The good news is there are steps parents can take to make a difference. Granger’s top five include:
1. Prevent Medicine Cabinet Mayhem
Most people abusing painkillers get them from friends and family. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed only 14% of people who reported misusing opioids bought them from drug dealers or strangers; most got them initially through someone they knew. Furthermore, the rate of substance abuse in young people and the rising rate of opioid and anxiety prescriptions in older adults could be a recipe for disaster. This greatly increases the possibility of easy access to pills when visiting grandparents or other relatives. Parents should talk with family before visiting, and ask them to dispose of expired medication and safely store current prescriptions. In some cases, this could even mean locking up medications.
2. Pay Attention at Parties
Holiday gatherings can be fun and festive. But teens and young adults often go unsupervised. Parents can reign in potentially dangerous behavior by keeping a watchful eye, which includes ensuring that a responsible adult oversees the bar. Parents also can be firm about tangible consequences if their underage child drinks alcohol and enforce these rules if they are violated. Additionally, parents should be mindful of their own imbibing. If parents get drunk and act irresponsibly that normalizes abuse and can have a dangerous impact.
3. Reestablish the Rules
Just because young adults have more freedom at college doesn't mean they should go unchecked at home. Studies show that parental influence makes a difference. Young adults still need and want guidance. Discussing house rules while they are home over break is important. Establishing an appropriate curfew and reinforcing no use of alcohol under the age of 21 are essential. It’s also important to set clear boundaries with young adults over the age of 21, especially if there are younger siblings in the home. The goal is to maintain a healthy family environment.
4. Talk About It
Research shows young people are less likely to be problem drinkers because their parents discussed alcohol misuse and its adverse consequences, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Older teens and young adults need your emotional support to help boost their self-esteem and coping skills, which in turn makes them less likely to pick up a drug or a drink. Caron’s recent national survey conducted by Harris Poll shows many parents still don’t recognize the need to speak with their children about prescription painkillers on par with other substances. The bottom-line is talking about alcohol and drugs makes a difference.
5. Foster Your Relationship in a Healthy Way
Parents increasingly turn to alcohol and marijuana as a way of bonding with their older teens and young adults. They may think they are promoting “responsible use” – without understanding the impact. In fact, the recent Harris Poll survey revealed that at least one-quarter of parents (26%) found it acceptable to use marijuana with their children 18 years or older, even though marijuana is proven to have a damaging impact on the developing brain. Instead, Granger suggests focusing on activities such as going to the movies, bowling, having a game night or exercising together, which offer important bonding time in a constructive way.
About Caron Treatment Centers
With 60 years in the field, Caron Treatment Centers operates lifesaving addiction and behavioral healthcare treatment. Caron is headquartered in Wernersville, Pennsylvania with Ocean Drive and Caron Renaissance located in Palm Beach County, Florida. Caron has Recovery Centers in New England, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which offer community and recovery support. Caron’s Recovery Centers in Atlanta and New York City also offer pre- and post-treatment services. Caron has the most extensive continuum of care including adolescents, young adults, mid-life adults, older adults, chronic pain, executives, healthcare professionals and legal professionals. Caron’s treatment is customized to meet the needs of individuals and families – with highly trained teams prepared to address co-occurring disorders. Caron offers an innovative approach to ongoing recovery care support for its former patients and their families with online peer groups and other resources during the first year of transition following discharge. For more information on Caron, please visit Caron at www.caron.org or follow us on Twitter.
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