Most parents have the conversation with their kids about drinking and driving. But there is growing concern that parents need to talk to kids about being impaired on ANY kind of substance.
Dr. Alan Bozman is a clinical psychologist and father of three including a teenager. Most parents tell their kids if you drink and drive, you lose the keys. But Dr. Bozman, who is Vice President of Behavioral Health for Carolina's HealthCare, says be frank with your teen that any kind of impairment means you lose your driving privileges.
"First and foremost parents need to be aware. "When you kids come home be at the door. What does their breath smell like? What do their eyes look like? You have to make that effort," says Bozman.
He suggests if you suspect your child is exposed to drugs and might have either smoked pot or taken a drug, there are inexpensive screening tests you can find at your local drug store. "I've told all three of my children, 'If I ever ask you to do a drug screen do it.'" He said if your child refuses, chances are they've got something to hide.
In a 2012 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found about 10.3 million people reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the prior year. That is about 3.9% compared to the number who admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. "Don't be fooled, alcohol is still the biggest cause for impaired driving among teens, but if it's coupled with say marijuana, impairment is significantly increased," Dr. Bozman said.
According to Dr. Bozman there are real and simulated studies that indicate marijuana can negatively affect a driver's attentiveness, perception of speed and time, and the ability to draw information from previous experienced.
So take the first step by talking openly with your child about their exposure to drugs. Make a promise that if they are ever impaired and need a ride home, you'll pick them up no questions asked, until morning. But tell them you'd rather they call for a safe ride home, then never make it home at all.