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Kids playing at sunset.

Summer: The Season of Experimentation

Summer is the time of year for teens to stay up late, sleep in, hang out at the lake, and spend time with friends and family. It’s also the time when they're most likely to use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, on an average summer day, more than 11,000 teenagers will have their first sip of alcohol, 5,000 will smoke their first cigarette, and 4,500 will smoke marijuana for the first time.

Is Your Child At Risk?
Several factors increase a child’s risk of substance abuse. Parents: Take steps to minimize those risks and protect your teen’s health and well-being. Risk factors for teens:

  • Lots of unscheduled time without adult supervision
  • Extra money to spend
  • A serious family challenge, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one
  • Believing their family or community condones teen substance abuse

You Can Make a Difference
Here are ways to help prevent your child's involvement with drinking or drug abuse:

  • Know where your child is spending his or her time, whom your child is with, and what he or she is doing.
  • Set limits and curfews on activities —and enforce them. Stay up until your child comes home at night so that you can monitor his or her sobriety.
  • Discourage unsupervised time by enrolling your teen in activities monitored by adults, such as a summer sports league or a creative class at Lake Tahoe Community College.
  • If your child spends the night at another teen’s home, speak with a parent to confirm he/she will be home and supervising.
  • Set up a plan to make it easier for your child to leave a party where alcohol or drugs are available.
  • Involve your teen in a mentoring or volunteer position.

Being well-informed about drug and alcohol abuse and keeping a close eye on your teen this summer can help him or her stay substance-free.

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: