Monitoring the Future: What It Means For Your Family

By Becky Posted January 01, 2013 under Educating Yourself, Talking to Your Teen

In late December, the National Institute on Drug Abuse released the 2012 Monitoring the Future report with up-to-date information on the rates of teen drug, alcohol, and medicine abuse. For anyone who has or works with teens, this report is invaluable because it lets us in on what is going on in their world, straight from the source. 

In a previous post, we shared some of the key findings and highlights of the study. But being informed isn’t enough to protect our teens. As parents, law enforcement, teachers, community leaders and health professionals, we have to take action. It isn’t always easy to know where to start, so I wanted to share my tips for using Monitoring the Future to talk to your teens:

  • Use it as a starting point:  The report shows that approximately 5% of teens abuse over-the-counter cough medicine to get high, so ask your children what they think about that statistic. Have they heard their friends talking about “robo-tripping” or “dexxing?” Do they understand the risks and dangers?
  • Ask your teens what they would do if they were at a gathering where Over the Counter drugs, or illegal drugs were being abused.  Assess their answer, and give them more ideas, such as leaving the party, calling a parent, or even calling authorities.  Make sure your suggestions do not make them feel as if their answer is wrong, because after all, any positive action is encouraged, and it is THEM who will ultimately make the choice.
  • Encourage, encourage, encourage your teens to be proud of themselves, love who they are, and appreciate their gifts.  The biggest gift you can give them is by being a supportive, interested parent.  As a single Mom, I know how easy it can be to get wrapped up in our own social lives. We must make our kids our first priority, and give them the security that they know they always are our first concern.  Once they know that, they will make you their first priority or resource in a crisis situation.

This report surveyed over 45,000 teens in 400 schools across the country – so odds are you might know one of them. That’s why it’s so important to start an honest conversation about these topics. Let me know your best strategies for talking to your teens in the comments below!