Most serious accidents during the teenage years involve the mixture of automobiles and alcohol and/or drugs (such as, Marijuana: pictured at right). Motorized all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles are also very dangerous. Suicide and unwanted pregnancies are major health problems in adolescence. Sexual activity can result in venereal disease (including AIDS). Open, honest lines of communication between parent and child during this time of transition are extremely important to help teenagers avoid disastrous life-style choices. Withdrawal changes in behavior and/or friends should never be ignored. These may be warning signs that your teenager is undergoing stress. Parental involvement in a teenager’s life can be a gratifying and helpful experience both for the teenager and the parent. You should stay involved in your child’s life, especially during this time by keeping your communication lines wide open.
Teenagers who smoke become addicted faster than adults do and nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Teenagers are more likely to smoke if friends, parents and older siblings smoke. Tobacco is the first substance used by those young people who use alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Smoking will cause lower level of lung function, reduced rate of lung growth, heart disease, faster resting heart rate, increased risk of lung cancer, and stroke, and smokers live approximately 7 years less than nonsmokers do. Smokeless tobacco will cause gum disease, cancer of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus and pancreas. Start educating children early about the risks and dangers of smoking before they are tempted to start. Starting smoking is easy; quitting smoking is extremely difficult at any age.