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Father and son talking.

How to Talk to Your Teen About Drugs and Alcohol

National statistics say by the time students graduate high school, nearly half will have marijuana or alcohol. The results for South Lake Tahoe are no different – in a survey taken in the 2014-2015 school year, 62 percent of 11th graders surveyed had tried alcohol and 52 percent had tried marijuana at least once.   

Understand the Harm
Laws don’t change the effects of pot on young brains. Just like alcohol, marijuana use has negative consequences.  

Recent research shows:

  • Marijuana users had more trouble at school and work.
  • MRI scans show even the occasional marijuana use changes brain structure. Long-term use starting in the teen years can irreversibly lower IQ.
  • While few teens see pot as addictive, about 40 percent of teens in treatment for drug use experience withdrawal symptoms when they quit.

Talk with Your Teen
It is important to have open and honest conversations with your teens. Understand your teen's perception of harm, and consider sharing the facts with them. Know these talks make a difference - even when it does not seem that way. Experts say these positive parenting skills can help prevent drug abuse in young people.

Here are some more talking tips:

  • Communicate calmly and clearly. Provide information, then ask questions and listen thoughtfully to the answers.
  • Encourage positive behaviors. Avoid sarcasm, negativity, and comparisons. Instead, remind teens of their strengths and past successes.
  • Negotiate wisely. Choose a neutral time and place to talk, and work together to find solutions.
  • Set limits. Make clear rules about drug and alcohol use.
  • Supervise. Know where your child is and whom your child spends time with, even when you are not around.
  • Model a healthy lifestyle. Abstain from smoking, alcohol, and drugs around your children. Many teens are introduced to drinking or smoking through their parents. 

Watch for red flags, including new sets of friends, run-ins with teachers or police, or a general lack of caring.

Local Support Is Available

If you suspect your child may be using drugs or alcohol, seek help from your family doctor or these local resources:
Tahoe Turning Point - 530.541.4594
Tahoe Youth and Family Services - 530.541.2445
El Dorado County Alcohol and Drug Programs - 530.573.7959