According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the key risk periods for adolescent drug abuse are during major transitions – such as moving to a new school or community – and Partnership research shows that stress in school is a major reason for adolescent substance abuse. For military teens, transitions often become a way of life, as each year a third of military families move to new neighborhoods and almost half of military parents report that their kids have difficulty making social adjustments following a move to a new town. Many of these teens are also coping with the added stresses of having one or both parents deployed, or even worse, dealing with the difficulty of a parent who has been injured or killed in combat.
To help with these difficult times, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ®, together with the National Military Family Association and the National Association of School Nurses, has launched new online tools to assist military families and teens who are facing deployment, major injury or illness of a parent, or moving frequently to new neighborhoods and schools. The effort is the first collaboration between the three organizations to provide assistance with the complex, extraordinary circumstances often faced by military families, especially in wartime, when families are in particular need of this kind of help and support.
The new military family support tools were are also championed by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who previously introduced the SUPPORT Substance Use Disorders Act which would make addiction treatment more readily available to members of the military and would provide privacy protections to those seeking help.
The new resources, available at TimeToTalk.org/Military, include (1) Transitions & Teens: A Guide for Military Parents, (2) The Military Talk Kit, (3) 10 Things School Nurses Want You To Know and (4) 10 Things Military Teens Want You To Know. The research-based guide in particular provides critical information to reduce stress and help keep teens drug and alcohol-free during difficult transition periods. Included within this information is a helpful checklist for pairing teen transition scenarios with a list of recommended tips, providing parents with a ‘roadmap’ for starting and maintaining open conversations, answering tough questions and advice for monitoring the warning signs of drug and alcohol abuse.