It might be hard to keep your teen from making the right decision when he or she is alone at a party with friends. If you’re not there with your teen to guide them along, will they may a healthy and safe choice when faced with drugs or alcohol? You won’t be able to guide their choices in the moment. But you can steer them in the right direction through honest discussion, modeling, and communicating your expectations.
Today, the average age of beginning drug use is around 14 year old. For this reason, you can begin to talk to your teen about drugs as early as 12 or 13. Some parents are afraid that if they talk about drugs, they’ll put the idea of substance use in their teen’s mind. However, the opposite is true. By talking about substance use, you have the opportunity to clearly communicate your expectations, hopes, and desires for your teen.
Here are some tips to consider for preventing substance use in your teen:
- If you see a billboard or television commercial highlighting the use of cigarettes, talk with their teen about smoking, nicotine addiction, and what smoking does to a person’s body.
- Keep the tone of your discussions calm.
- Be specific about the effects of the drugs, including how they make a person feel, the risk of overdose, and the other long-term damage they can cause.
- Let your teen know that you disapprove of substance use. Children who know their parents disapprove of drug use are less likely to use.
- Set a good example for your teen by being responsible with alcohol.
- Lock your medicine cabinet and keep your teen safe from prescription drugs. And if there is no longer a need for certain drugs, throw them away.
- Items around them house, such as solvents and aerosols, known as inhalants, might also need to be locked away.
- If there is a history of addiction in the family, considering adopting a strict no-drinking/no-drug policy.
- If you know that your family is vulnerable to drug addiction (because of mental illness, social contacts, or a family history), keep discussions with your teen open, honest, and real, especially as he or she gets older.
- When your teen is old enough to go out alone, have them go out early in the night when most people are still somewhat sober, and leave early before the night gets too carried away.
- Teach your teen to order non-alcoholic drinks so that they can look “cool” with a drink in their hand, but not have to manage the hangover in the morning.
- Have your teen invite friends to keep an eye on him or her so that the allure of drinking doesn’t tempt them.
- Encourage your teen to stay communicative with you so that they’re comfortable telling you where you’re going and when you’ll be back. This will also be a way of being held accountable to a non-drinking lifestyle.
- Encourage your teen to remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol.
Because of the many dangers that come with drug use, facilitating a teen’s abstinence of drugs and alcohol can keep them safe. Use the above tips to prevent substance use in your teen.