When parents think of their teen’s phone use, they often imagine hitching a ride with Uber, ordering a pizza on Grubhub, or making videos on social media. But smartphones, social media, and convenience apps have made access to illegal drugs and underage drinking all too easy. According to one young person who experienced addiction in high school, in as little as eight minutes, a teen can discreetly communicate with a dealer, get access to that dealer, exchange money, and get drugs. Thanks to the rise of social media platforms and convenience apps, certain emojis and images can direct a young person to a drug dealing business, drug types for sale, and convenience apps to use for a seamless delivery and exchange. Teenagers wouldn’t have to go farther than their front yard to pick up anything they desired.
Re-identify the “bad guy”
This might scare parents to look at the internet and strangers as the “bad guy.” Kids are usually taught to say no to that suspicious person on the corner. But when drugs first get introduced to a child, that person is usually a myth, says one young adult who became addicted in high school. “The first person to introduce me to substances was a friend of mine at band camp. The next person was a guy that I met in math class.” It’s important for parents to talk to their kids about having boundaries when their closest friends or people they look up to offer them drugs or alcohol.
Create a supportive environment with open communication
Ultimately, there are many choices a teenager will have to make on their own, so the most important tip young people in recovery offer is creating a home environment where kids can share what they experience without fear of harsh judgment or punishment. Having a safe place to discuss issues is critical to helping youth learn to make healthy choices. If a teen doesn’t feel she can talk to their parents about this topic, she may not tell them that a friend is doing drugs or that she is seeing drugs around her on social media or at social events. What she learns will be very one-sided. Creating permission to share, asking questions and finding answers in the home is a role that prepared parents can play.
Take care of your brain!
One important conversation a parent can have with their teen is that no matter what culture, friends, or even family consider acceptable, the teen brain is still developing for many more years. An intoxicant like drugs or alcohol will change how they feel, and may even feel good, but it also changes how their brain grows, and can cause damage and changes to their young brain that will have lifelong consequences. That is why it is better to find other safer ways to feel good that involve the supervision of adults or don’t cause negative impacts to their healthy growing brain.
If a parent feels more help is needed addressing a drug or alcohol problem in the family, local nonprofit Rise Recovery is here to help.
This is a place where miracles happen
Roy Reina works as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist and oversees school outreach programs, currently serving several different schools in five San Antonio school districts. He came to Rise Recovery in 2014 to better his life, and in 2015, the program helped him get sober. “This is a place where miracles happen,” said Reina.
This special place wasn’t always known as Rise Recovery. It opened its doors in 1977 as Palmer Drug Abuse Program (PDAP) and took the name Rise Recovery about ten years ago as it expanded its programs to youth, young adults, and families in Bexar County.
Rise Recovery’s mission is to help youth, young adults and families overcome the effects of drugs and alcohol, and partner with the community in drug and alcohol education and abuse prevention.
The staff is made up of people who know what it’s like to overcome addiction or love someone struggling with addiction. The one-on-one peer coaching and facilitated support groups are of no charge to the community, thanks to local donor support.
“Where else can youth and their families go to get support for such a stigmatizing issue and be met with open arms and unconditional love? Nowhere that I have found even comes close to this,” said Liz Todd, Rise Recovery Program Director.
In addition to community-based and public-school services, Rise Recovery is accepting enrollment into its recovery high school, Rise Inspire Academy, a school designed for high school-aged youth seeking recovery from drugs and alcohol in a safe environment. For program details and to enroll, visit: https://www.riserecovery.org/about-us/our-services/recovery-classroom/
One mom shared of her experience, “I am a parent of a teenager that has struggled with substance abuse. My teenager enjoys going to high school every day. My teenager wants to continue to obtain sobriety. As a parent of a teenager with addiction, I also receive counseling through family sessions at NO COST! Rise has helped me tremendously with continuing to navigate a healthy path for myself and my family.”
To sustain these no-charge services, Rise Recovery hosts an annual fundraiser. This year, New York Times bestselling author, Anne Lamott will join Rise Recovery virtually, live, for a benefit event on March 23, 2021 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. Click here for event details, including tickets, raffle items, and sponsorship opportunities.
Remember, substance use begins with a decision, but addiction is not a choice.