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A Summer Plan of Action

June 14, 2013  |  Falmouth Enterprise

By Dr. Michael Bihari

(This article is based on information from the Drug Free Action Alliance)

After a busy school year a little rest and relaxation is well-deserved and much needed for both students and parents, but too much downtime (especially when unsupervised) can be hazardous to your teenager’s health. 

By the time June arrives, most of us look forward to slowing things down and enjoying an easy-going, commitment-free summer, especially in Falmouth with our beckoning beaches and throngs of visitors having a good time.

While this may sound like a good plan, it is in your teenager’s best interest to keep up the pace a bit this summer.  The summer months is the riskiest time of the year for first-time alcohol and other drug use among youth. 

Why? Too much time on a teen’s hands + lack of supervision = Trouble.

Check Out the Statistics:

  • About 11,000 teens start using alcohol each day during the summer break, compared to about 8,000 a day during other times of the year.
  • On average 4,500 begin smoking marijuana each day during the summer, compared with three to four thousand a day other times of the year.
  • As for students who have already begun drinking and smoking, many are known to indulge more often and more heavily during the summer months.

Some Tips for a Summer Plan of Action

The most important thing you should do is to make clear your expectations for your teen not to drink or use drugs, regardless of the circumstance they are in. Repeat this message often.

Help your kids create some structure to their days, whether it is getting a summer job, volunteering, taking part in an educational class or workshop or enrolling in camp. Keeping busy is a good deterrent for drinking.

Supervise your kids (even older teens) as much as possible. Set rules for who is allowed and not allowed to be in your home when you are not. Then check in regularly.

Know where your teens are, who they are with and what their plans are at all times. And if any part of the plan changes along the way, make it a rule that they check-in to let you know. 

Be aware of summer parties and do NOT allow your teen to attend one where underage drinking is planned, even if she ‘agrees’ not to partake. This is legally risky and the peer pressure may be too much for him to handle. No matter how much you ‘trust’ your son or daughter, it is not wise to put your children in such a position.

If your teens are at a party and alcohol or other drugs come out, they must be able to count on calling you day or night for a safe getaway.

Lead by example. Show your children that a fun, summer party does not have to include alcohol or smoking pot. If you choose to have a drink at a gathering, drink in moderation and let your children see that you are not driving. For better or worse they are watching and learning.

Remind your kids they are never to ride in a car, boat or any other motor vehicle with a driver of any age who is under the influence of any substance. If the person responsible for getting your child home has been drinking, your son or daughter must know to kindly refuse the ride and reach you instead.

Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. You may be surprised to learn that some families are not on the same page as you when it comes to preventing underage drinking and drug use. 

Have a safe and fun summer!

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