There are many reasons why children and teens begin to use and become addicted to drugs, from being bored to seeking social acceptance. Illicit drug use among youth aged 12 to 17 increased from 9.3 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009. Often, young people who use drugs are simply looking for something to occupy their time.
You should discuss drug use with your children and help them in choosing alternative activities or healthy “addictions” that they can participate in. There are many great ways to keep kids active and help them avoid peer pressure or situations that could lead to trying or abusing drugs.
Sports. Playing sports is a great activity for children and teens. They must devote a lot of energy to practice and to games. Participating in team or individual sports will not only make youth less likely to become involved with drugs, but it is also good for their overall health.
Music. Learning to play an instrument or being a member of a choir is tough work, but it will occupy your kids’ time and reduce the possibility for risky situations where drugs may be introduced. With music, your children will see the outcome and reward of their hard work and practice. You can remind them that drug use will only lead to poor health and usually poor choices.
Volunteering. Volunteering will keep your children active and engaged in the community, and can even help them get into college. Many colleges look favorably upon applicants who have given their time to helping others. Remind your teen that drug use would only push them farther away from their family, friends and future goals.
Hobby. If you child isn’t interested in team sports or music, a hobby can be great for using that excess energy. It doesn’t matter if your teens want to build model cars or take up gardening as their hobby—just remember that any hobby is better than drug abuse. You should support and reinforce their choice of hobby, so they feel a sense of accomplishment and reward.
Club or Civic Organization. Joining a club or civic organization for young people is a great way for teens to meet other like-minded teens who are also seeking to make a positive impact. You can rest assured your teens are spending time making good choices and being around people who wish to do the same.