Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Tips and Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Families
In today’s society, children and teens are exposed to a variety stimuli relating to drugs and alcohol. Youth will be exposed to suggestive advertising, media, news stories, opinions, belief systems, and the actions of their peers. As a result, your teens may become curious and could begin experimenting with various substances on their own. Also, teens may experience peer pressure to try drinking alcohol or using drugs recreationally. There is no way to eliminate the possibility of drug and alcohol use, but parents can take certain steps to protect their children from drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and even long-term chemical dependency.
How do I talk to my teen about drugs and alcohol?
As a parent, relative, guardian or friend, you should educate teens about alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and the possible dangers of these substances. When it comes to alcohol and drug prevention, knowledge is power. Ultimately, your children and teens are responsible for making their own decisions, but you can help them make smarter choices. The best way to talk to your teens about drugs and alcohol is to encourage and respect open, honest communication between you and your child. Teens will be much less likely to engage in a conversation if they feel threatened, judged or condemned for their thoughts or behaviors. It is important to be patient, understanding and honest. Share your own experiences with alcohol and drugs. It may be beneficial to discuss the challenges you faced growing up and how you handled these situations. In addition, tell your kids about the scary stuff – memory loss, health problems, sexual dangers, mental health disorders, jail/prison, alcohol poisoning, drug overdoses and even death. These are the real consequences of abusing alcohol and drugs. Again, use your own judgment when broaching these subjects, but it’s important for teens to have the knowledge to decide for themselves. The most important thing you can do as a parent or guardian is build trust with your teen. A child who can confide in a parent will be much more likely to tell them what’s really going on in his or her life. A trusting relationship can go a long way in helping prevent drug abuse and alcohol abuse.
At what age should I start the discussion about drugs and alcohol?
Unfortunately, there is no “right” answer to this question. The decision to begin talking to your children about drugs and alcohol is completely subjective. You know your kids better than anyone. Take note of their behaviors, attitude, group of friends, television choices and other indicators. If you feel that they are ready to handle a mature conversation about substance abuse, then bring it up, gauge their reaction and modify the discussion, if necessary.
How can I protect my teenager from alcohol and drug abuse?
Although you cannot eliminate the threat of alcohol and drug abuse, you can take certain steps to help protect your child or teen from substance abuse. First, create rules and guidelines. Think about what makes sense for you and your family. Talk to your husband or partner and make an agreement with that person. In some cases, you may want to discuss your options with extended family or trusted friends. The most important thing is to decide on a set of rules (curfew, friends, time away from home, school performance, extracurricular activities, etc.) and stick to it. If your teen respects these guidelines and adheres to his or her part of the agreement, then be open to negotiations in the future. Let your children be part of the discussion if they have earned the right to do so. Next, it is important to monitor your children and teens. Pay attention to their performance in school, interest in extracurricular activities, changes in behavior, and friends. If anything seems different or unusual, ask your teen about it. If they are lying, chances are you’ll be able to tell. Finally, make sure to enforce the rules you have put in place. If your teen ignores or purposefully breaks one of the guidelines you have set, there needs to be consequences. It’s the only way that children will learn that this type of behavior is not tolerated. Before assigning a punishment, have a discussion with your child about why they acted the way that they did. This is an opportunity for parents to receive valuable insight about their teen. By enforcing rules, parents can help teach their children valuable lessons about responsibility, accountability, respecting authority, and hopefully, children will learn not to make the same mistake again.
What should I do if someone I love is experimenting with drugs and alcohol?
If you suspect that your child or teen is experimenting with drugs and alcohol, the first thing you need to do is to talk about it. Give them a chance to get honest and to discuss their feelings. Let your child walk you through their decision-making process and tell you about their experience. Use this as an opportunity to reinforce the dangers of alcohol and drug use. If a teen is not willing to tell the truth, you can seek out additional information from other parents. If the situation is serious enough, you may want to get advise from a chemical dependency specialist or behavioral health expert.