Back To School: More Stressful Than Parents Think

–(BUSINESS WIRE)–August can be a stressful time for teens and tweens, as they prepare to face another school year – and with it, new social and academic pressures.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America recently released a survey showing that the number one reason for teenage drug and alcohol abuse is to deal with school-related pressures. Of the 6,500 teens surveyed, 73 percent said that “coping with school stress” is a main reason why they turn to drugs. In an accompanying study of parents, just 7 percent of parents thought teens might use drugs to deal with stress.

“There’s a real disconnect between what teens are thinking and feeling and what parents believe about their teens when it comes to attitudes about drug use,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership.

Many parents know that their kids face pressures unheard of when they were teens, along with schedules as demanding as most adults. But they may be surprised that instead of blowing off steam by playing soccer, gossiping at the mall or playing video games, some teens see drugs and alcohol as a way to grapple with tough classes.

As parents make their to-do lists for back to school, far more important than buying new clothes and notebooks is making time to talk—having what may be a sensitive or even uncomfortable discussion with your child about handling stress in a healthy way, and letting them know you care about them too much to see them in danger. Your kid may roll his eyes, but he’ll hear you.

Frequent discussions with kids about the risks of drugs and alcohol go a long way. Research shows that kids who learn a lot about these risks from a parent or other caring adult are up to 50 percent less likely to use.

If starting the conversation feels like a big production, or if your child isn’t especially talkative, try breaking the ice with a text message. It’s how teens talk to each other, and most parents find that even if their teens won’t take their calls, they’ll respond to a text message. If you’re lost for words, visit TimeToTalk.org for advice and tips on talking about tough subjects with your teens, and a guide to text messaging.

Back to school is an important transition time, but it’s not enough to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol once a year. How many times have you told them not to drink milk out of the carton or leave laundry on the floor? Keep the conversation going all year. Remind your kids that no matter what name they called you at dinner last night, you love and support them.

About the Partnership

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a nonprofit organization that unites parents, renowned scientists and communications professionals to help families raise healthy children. Best known for its research-based national public education programs, the Partnership motivates and equips parents to prevent their children from using drugs and alcohol, and to find help and treatment for family and friends in trouble. The centerpiece of this effort is an online resource center at drugfree.org, featuring interactive tools that translate the latest science and research on teenage behavior, addiction and treatment into easy to understand tips and tools. At drugfree.org, parents can connect with each other, tap into expert advice for children of all ages, and find the support they want and need to raise healthy families. The Partnership depends on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and other contributors. The Partnership thanks SAG/AFTRA, the advertising industry and our media partners for their ongoing generosity in the fight against drug abuse in America.