Why Idle Time Poses a Risk to Teens in Summer

Summer months are a time to hang out at the beach, have backyard BBQs, going on family vacations and having a fun time. However, for some teens, summer could be an idle time, with no plans or activities to keep them busy. And this could lead to negative behavior like drug misuse or underage drinking.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, there is a 40% increase in first time Marijuana use among youth, during the months of June and July, as compared to the rest of the year. More than 1,500 youths used hallucinogens per day for the first time, and first time use of inhalants also increased in July.

Factors Leading to Summer Drug Use

Adventure and exploring go hand in hand with summer, and teens might think that trying drugs and alcohol is the way to have fun. They may also be pressured into exploring harmful substances by their friends. In fact, researchers have discovered that a main predictor to whether teens will begin drinking or taking drugs at an early age is if their best friends do the same. That being said, family history can also play a role. But peer pressure and a desire to fit in with their friends is by far the most important factor.

Adolescents brains are still developing. And they function differently than those of adults when it comes to decision making and problem solving. Due to that, they are more like to act impulsively, get into accidents, misinterpret social cues and emotions, get involved in fights and engage in other forms of risky behavior. Teenagers are much less likely to think before they act or pause to consider what sort of consequences their actions might have.

How to Keep Teens Safe During Summer

What can parents or adults around the teen do to manage the risk of drug and alcohol misuse during summer? There are a whole host of prevention strategies that can be applied here that can help.

Nor are these strategies restricted to the summer months. Some solutions include:

  1. Keeping teens busy with productive activities. Or set goals within the activities that the teen is already involved in, so the teen is working towards something and is less likely to jeopardize that with drug use.
  2. Adequate supervision is a must. Of course, if the teen is at an age where they don’t require supervision 24/7, then this is harder to do. But they can be made to check in at regular times, and have a curfew.
  3. Education is important. Teens typically don’t want to talk to their parents about things like drug use, or they may think they know what the dangers are. Regardless, sitting down with them and having an open conversation about drugs and its negative effects will be well worth the time.
  4. A system of rewards and penalties could also work. For example, the teen would lose privileges if they are caught trying drugs or alcohol. But make sure there are rewards if they stay clean. And if they do use harmful substances but admit it, then make sure that the penalties are less harsh. This will ensure that the teen keeps their trust and is willing to come to the parent for help and guidance.

Lead Recovery offers treatment and resources for young adults recovering from addiction. Call us today to find out what our trained professionals can do for you.