Bryan Fox, PhD
Adolescent Recovery Center
There are many reasons why kids and teenagers love the summertime – they don’t have to worry about homework or being at school at a certain time, and they have more freedom to do what they want. Bryan Fox, PhD, director of special projects with Addiction Recovery Services at Palmetto Health and manager of the Adolescent Recovery Center, explains that the lack of accountability and structure that summer brings also provides opportunity for risky behavior, such as substance abuse.
“The unstructured time can really create an opportunity for kids to engage in things that they might not otherwise do,” said Fox. “Without the built in structure and accountability that comes with being in school, through grades and attendance, it is easy for these behaviors to occur without parents realizing it.”
Fox said there are warning signs to look for when it comes to risky behaviors:
- Being secretive about a new set of friends.
- Lying about where they have been.
- Seeing a lot of unexplained money being spent.
Fox said an unstructured summer can also lead to an increase in anxiety and depression among teens. Below are some possible signs:
- Instead of going out and having fun with friends, they isolate themselves in the house or their room.
- Sleeping 10 to 12 hours a night consistently, or staying up all night because they are unable to sleep.
- A significant reduction in appetite.
There are things you can do to help prevent or deal with these issues. Fox provides these tips to give your child some structure and accountability this summer:
- Have your child get a summer job.
- Get them involved with volunteer opportunities.
- Regularly talk to them about what’s going on and any concerns within the family.
The summertime should be fun and relaxing, but it should also be safe. If you have any concerns about your teenager and are wondering what to do next, Fox says to contact your pediatrician or the Palmetto Health Adolescent Recovery Center.
The Palmetto Health Adolescent Recovery Center provides intensive, structured treatment for teens experiencing difficulties functioning in their family, school and/or community due to a behavioral health disorder.
Visit their website