According to a 2009 federal survey, one in 10 children ages 12 to 17 use illicit drugs on a regular basis. However, there are many simple steps that parents can take to prevent drug use in their teens. Consider the following effective ways parents can help their teen avoid the pitfalls of drug use:
Tell Your Child that You Disapprove: Children who know their parents disapprove of drug use are less likely to use. When children get the message that their parents do not care or that their parents approve, they will experiment and continue to use. If you want to help your child avoid drugs, it’s best to let them know how you feel about drugs before they get to adolescence.
Set a Good Example: Some parents believe that their children are not paying attention. They might be playing or enjoying time outside or spending time with their friends, but children are always soaking up the words, behavior, and choices their parents model. It’s best to model the kind of behavior you want from your child. When you model positive choices towards medication, alcohol, and other substances can facilitate the prevention of addiction in your teen.
Lock Your Medicine Cabinet: Currently, prescription drug abuse is an epidemic sweeping the country. If there are prescription drugs in the house, lock them up and keep track of them. Although young children will likely not have a strong interest in medication, it’s always best to keep medication out of the reach of children and teens. And if there is no longer a need for certain drugs, throw them away. Along these lines, another danger is inhalants. Items around them house, such as solvents and aerosols might also need to be locked for the safety of your children.
Consider Your Family History: It’s common for addiction to run in the family. Since the illness has a psychological component, there are emotional patterns that are passed down from one generation to another. If there is a history of addiction in the family, parents may want to adopt a strict no-drinking/no-drug policy at home. Of course, it’s important to know that a child or teen can develop a substance abuse problem even in the absence of any family history of addiction. Yet, if you know that your family is vulnerable to drug addiction, it’s important to keep discussions with your child open, honest, and real, especially as he or she gets older.
Teach Your Teen How to Have Fun Without Substances: One of the biggest influences of substance use among teens is the idea that getting drunk or high creates a fun experience that they otherwise couldn’t have. In fact, one study found that 34% of male adolescents agreed with the statement “parties are more fun with drugs”. According to the study, teen boys use drugs to help themselves socially relax and have fun. For the most part, teens want to know that they belong and that they are accepted by their peers. If you want to help them avoid peer pressure to drink, give your teen and a few their friends an experience they can enjoy without alcohol or drugs. For instance, you might take them hiking, camping, shopping, or on a road trip.
These are suggestions for keeping your teen safe from harm and healthy.