Effective Deterrents to Drug Use in Teens

Submitted by Amanda G.

As a parent, one of your hardest jobs is going to be keeping your kids away from drugs and alcohol. This is the tightest tightrope you will ever walk; yes, even more fraught than talking to your kids about sexual activity. Why? Because the peer pressure surrounding drug use is often far more heavy than the pressure to engage in sexual activity.

At first blush that feels extreme, right? Surely the pressure is heavier than joining in on drinking or drug use? But as anybody who has ever been a teenager knows, lying about one’s sexual maturity and experience is relatively easy. It’s far more difficult to hide abstention when everybody is watching like a hawk to make sure a teen is “joining the party.”

It’s also important to note that “drug use” doesn’t just involve illicit substances like marijuana, ecstasy, or harder substances. Prescription drug abuse has soared over the last few years. This is particularly problematic if you have a teenage daughter because, according to the experts at www.sandysplace.com, women are prescribed drugs at a higher rate than are men.

So what can you do? How can you make absolutely sure that your teens don’t give in to the peer pressure they are sure to face?

  1. Accept Your Limitations

The very first thing you must do, if you hope to keep your kids away from drinking and drugs, is to accept that you will never be absolutely sure of anything… unless you stay glued to your child’s side 100% of their lives, you won’t always know exactly what is going on. And trust us, the more you hover and suspect, the more you are likely to push them into experimentation, not away from it.

  1. Set Clear and Firm Boundaries

It is essential that your kids know exactly what will happen to them if you find out that they have done something wrong. Having non-negotiable punishments helps kids understand what they are risking by lying, drinking, etc. Nebulous punishments are more likely to invite experimentation. But if, for example, your teens know beyond a doubt that they will lose phone and internet privileges (beyond supervised homework time) for an extended period of time if they come home smelling like alcohol (or worse), they are more likely to make smart decisions. And make no mistake: your teens need boundaries and structure just as much as they get older as they did when they were little.

  1. Be Open

Many of today’s parents grew up in an era where we were taught that things were either bad or good. Our own parents were told that being authoritative was more important than bonding and that parents should not try to be their kid’s friends. Most importantly, our parents were pressured to be examples of perfection.

To some extent, this is true. As a parent, you are in charge so you can’t always be your teen’s bestie. Even so, being open about emotions, pressures, life choices, etc. is the best way to keep your kids from hiding their experimentation from you. If you build a relationship in which your kids are encouraged to ask you questions because they know they will get honest answers, they will be more likely to simply ask you what drinking is like or what happens if they try a drug or if their friends are doing things that are making them uncomfortable.

  1. Busy Bees

Nobody is saying that every minute of your child’s day needs to be scheduled in advance. This is often counterproductive and will encourage your kids to rebel. Still, helping your kids find extra curriculars to keep them busy and engaged with something goes a long way toward keeping them on the straight and narrow. It also looks fantastic on college applications.

One of the best things you can do is have your teens volunteer in places where they will be confronted with people who have had to face the consequences of addiction. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, hospitals, etc. These environments will help teach them compassion as well as give them the opportunity to talk to those who can contradict the “no big deal” pressure they’ll get among their peers.

It is going to be difficult to set up a home with firm boundaries and open communication but trust us: that effort will be worth it in the long run.

Submitted by Amanda G.

What is a Genetic Counselor?

Article contributed by Amanda G.

If you are thinking of having a baby, or if you have already received the wonderful news of your pregnancy, you will most likely be doing some research on how to maintain a healthy pregnancy. You may have questions regarding your health and the health of your baby throughout the pregnancy.

Genetic counselors work with you to answer these questions and can also help you through decisions such as whether or not you should receive prenatal testing based on the likelihood of your child being born with a genetic condition.

Why Would Someone Consider Going to See a Genetic Counselor?

Individuals with a family history of genetic conditions, or who have received abnormal an ultrasound, abnormal screening test results, have had a history of miscarriages, or have previously given birth to a baby with a genetic condition will want to consider visiting a genetic counselor. If you are considering prenatal genetic testing options, a genetic counselor will present you with the different kinds of tests available and can discuss the results with you, as well as help you cope with the emotions that may come up throughout the testing process.

What Kind of Training do Genetic Counselors Have?

Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals that are specifically trained in genetic conditions and prenatal genetic testing as well as counseling techniques. Genetic counselors must complete a Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling and must pass a certification exam before practicing.

What Will I Talk About With My Genetic Counselor?

Genetic counselors are trained to collect specific information and analyze it to determine your baby’s risk of developing a genetic disorder. Most likely, you will discuss the following points during your appointment with a genetic counselor:

  • Family medical history, specifically any history of genetic disorders
  • Gynecological history, specifically any past pregnancies or history of miscarriage
  • Genetic conditions and birth defects
  • Different types of prenatal genetic testing
  • Treatment options for genetic conditions and birth defects
  • Questions you may have regarding genetic conditions, birth defects, and genetic testing
  • Understanding emotions that come with testing for and learning about genetic conditions
  • Useful resources that can provide you with more information, allowing you to make informed decisions and ask informed questions

How to Find a Genetic Counselor

Your obstetrician may be able to refer you to a genetic counselor. Genetic counselors work with a team of other healthcare professionals including clinical geneticists and obstetricians. You may also perform your own search on the National Society of Genetic Counselors website to find a genetic counselor in your area.

It is always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider or genetic counselor before making any decisions regarding your pregnancy. By speaking with a genetic counselor, you will have the opportunity to ask questions you may have about genetic disorders and your specific risk assessment associated with them. A genetic counselor is also a valuable resource to provide counseling through what can be an emotional and anxious process.

Article contributed by Amanda G.

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