This is the third question from the interview with a high school student for her school paper.
What are some reasons why kids might have a realization that they need to stop partying and maybe break an addiction? (Like I have talked to students who knew a student at our school who died in a drunk driving accident, which caused them to stop going to parties. Do you think something traumatic like this often has to happen for kids to realize they need to stop?)
I do not find that traumatic incidents impact drug and alcohol use for the long term except for the people actually involved in the incident. With the situation of the drunk driving death, some of the friends closest to the victim might truly reconsider using. For the rest of the school, there is not likely to be much change after a few weeks have passed. Most often, the strongest impact on slowing or stopping drug and alcohol use behaviors comes from each teen’s parents. There are a wide variety of attitudes about teen drug and alcohol experimentation. A lot of parents, sadly, will assume it is just part of teen years and therefore do not address it well. They say things like, “Just be safe. Don’t drive if you drink.” The parents who get serious about it more often have a real impact on changing their teen’s behavior. Honestly though, a lot of parents are in denial about their own alcohol and marijuana use, so they are not necessarily the best example to their kids. If a teen has developed a real addiction to something, the signs are always obvious as long as the parents do not sit in denial. The parents have to have back-bone and do things like stop paying for cars, cell phones, allowances, etc. until the teen straightens up.