The end of the Fall semester is around the corner and it is a time of year that students panic because it’s Finals time.  Your teenagers are probably very stressed or getting stressed. There is a lot going on right now.  Seniors are trying to complete college applications, seniors and juniors are worried about grades because these grades will impact which colleges they can go to.  In addition, there is time off for Christmas so many teenagers are focusing on spending time with their friends.  However, many teenagers may be in danger of failing some classes and if they do, their parents may restrict the time they spend with friends. Also they need to allow for time with their families too, so not doing well on finals can significantly impact their Holiday break.

As I stated besides finals, teenagers are having to balance time between friends and family during their Holiday break.  This is being complicated because inflation is high and some parents may want them to get a job or help at home to decrease household expenses. Therefore, teenagers are dealing with another winter break which is severely limited due to situations occurring in the world.  Besides having to balance time between family and friends, they still have to keep the homework current and study for finals or complete semester projects.  They are getting tired of having to focus on school and not be free to see their friends because it seems like they never get a break.

In many classes the final may be worth fifty percent of the students grade.  The final grade in a class is very important.  This grade will be part of their overall GPA which can affect what colleges Juniors can apply to and their ability to get scholarships.  Also for seniors these are the grades colleges will be using to determine who they accept or reject.  Seniors know they need a decent Fall semester GPA to have a chance of being accepted by a college.

As you can see there is a great deal of pressure on high school students during this time of year.  Also since the competition to get into colleges has increased and the competition for scholarships have increased so has the stress on high school students.

Many students will do what ever they need to in order to survive this time of year.  This includes using alcohol or weed to help them relax or sleep.  They will also take friends ADHD medication, use cocaine, or start taking caffeine pills or start drinking a great deal of coffee or energy drinks so they can stay awake and study.  They don’t realize how much caffeine those energized drinks contain.  Also the combination of weed to sleep and caffeine to stay awake can cause mood changes, psychosis and even death.

Most teens want to do things on there own so they will tell you everything is fine and they have it covered.  They think it is fine because of the substances they are using.  Remember a teenagers prefrontal lobes are not fully developed yet.  Therefore, they only focus on the here and now and not on the future.  They also do not always think about the long term consequences about some of the things they are using.

If your teenager is getting angry very easily or crying easily this is a sign that something is going on. If you notice a change in their eating habits such as going from eating a lot to eating nothing, this is another sign.  Also if you notice a change in their sleep pattern such as awake all night and falling asleep at odd times this is also a sign.

What do you do if you notice something that is making you worry, you should sit down and talk to your teenager. Explain you know there is a lot of stress right now and point out the changes you have noticed and what you are concerned about.  Reinforce you are not having this conversation because you are mad and they are not in trouble, you are having this conversation because you love them. If they are using things or doing things because they think it will help them study, let them know you are there to help.  Explain some of the dangers associated with what they are doing. Remind them no grade is worth their life.

One thing you may want to do, is say to your teenager you know the end of the semester is a stressful time.  Ask them if they need any help studying or help organizing their time.  Let them know if there is any way you can help, you are there to help.  Remind them, all they need to do is ask you for help and you will help.  Many teenagers hate to ask for help, so you may want to comment on how you see them struggling and discuss how you can help, even if they don’t think they need it.  Ask them to allow you to help because you can’t help it but you worry about them and by helping them, they would be helping you cope with your stress.

Hopefully they will listen to you and confide in you. If they continue to deny everything, but it is obvious they are using drugs, then go to any local pharmacy and buy a drug testing kit.  Explain you are only doing this for their safety and they are not in trouble.  They may be afraid or embarrassed to tell you. They may feel like a failure in your eyes.  As their parent they really need your love and support right now not a lecture.  Again remember when you were in high school and how difficult it was to tell your parents certain things.  Good luck.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with teens, children, trauma survivors including first responders and has over 25 years experience and his work is nationally recognized.  To find out more about Dr. Michael Rubino visit his website at or his Facebook page at