With schools closing for the summer in a few weeks, many Jersey teens will have lots of free time and perhaps at times no supervision.

The experts are warning that could open the door to drug problems

“It’s very concerning because they may easily wind up getting involved with drug related behavioral problems, legal problems, kids inviting other kids and having a big alcohol and drug party escalating into a really chaotic situation,” said Dr. Najeeb Riaz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Carrier Clinic.

To avoid this kind of situation, Riaz said planning ahead is key.

“High schools have many different activities and courses to offer teenagers,” he said. “Parents can sit down with their teens and discuss what kind of courses they might be interested in taking, whether it’s cooking or chess or veterinarian, there should be a course available at their local school which would be interesting to your child.”

“If this is something that takes place during the same hours the parents are at work, that would be the best outcome.”

Riaz stressed if parents don’t help their teens plan out what they’re going to do during the summer, it’s much more likely they’ll wind up getting in trouble.

“It’s unfortunate the accessibility and availability of drugs and alcohol at home and parents not locking up their liquor cabinets,” he said. “I would just ask them what are their plans for the summer and if they need any assistance from us parents that their summer is going to be fun and productive.”

He also said connecting with other parents and sharing plans and resources can be very helpful

The bottom line, said Riaz, is if teens don’t have any planned structured activities for the summer it opens the door to all sorts of problems, “from accidental intoxication leading to an overdose and a medical emergency to addiction behavior patterns with stealing and lying, and associating with criminal elements. All these problems are very real and we see them every day.”

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