Preventing drug abuse begins at an early age with parents and caregivers doing their part to intervene and educate children about the dangers and risks associated with substance use. It is very common for children and teens to be faced with peer pressure which makes it tempting to abuse drugs. Unfortunately, many children, especially those who have not been educated on the risks associated with drug abuse, make poor decisions when it comes to trying out drugs or alcohol.
According to NIDA, "the best approach to reducing the tremendous toll substance abuse exacts from individuals, families, and communities is to prevent the damage before it occurs."
Drug abuse is a largely preventable situation. Prevention begins with talking to kids about drugs, setting guidelines, and monitoring teens to ensure that they are not using.
According to HealthyKids, being open and honest about drugs and the risks associated with substance abuse can help to thwart teenage drug abuse. It's equally important for parents and caregivers to listen to what their teens are telling them. Consistency is key though throughout the prevention of drug abuse so, as a parent, it's important to show your children how you expect them to act by acting in a similar manner.
Teens who grow up with parents who abuse drugs or alcohol are more likely to abuse these substances too. Children recognize what their parents do and they take action to be "just like mom and dad." If you are a parent who suffers from a substance use disorder, consider seeking professional help in order to improve the chances that your teen will follow in healthy footsteps and avoid using drugs or alcohol.
If your child or teen says, "But mom, everyone smokes pot," or "But all my friends drink," be ready to correct the inconsistencies in belief that come up. NOT everyone smokes pot and if a teen's friends are ALL using alcohol, there's truly a problem with the choices that have been made in terms of their friendships. Your child will likely have a number of inconsistencies in belief over the years and it will be mostly up to you to encourage them to see past those beliefs and to make better decisions that are backed by real information.
There are steps that can be taken to help prevent drug abuse. Many of the normal activities of a family relationship are conducive to a reduced risk of drug abuse. You may not even realize, but having a strong bond with your children, being engaged in your child's life and being open to communication are all key factors in the prevention of drug abuse.
The following factors can further reduce the risk of teen drug abuse:
- Providing teens with clear expectations that they can understand.
- Promoting academic involvement and success in school.
- Creating strong bonds in the community through church, school events and other elements of the community.
- Breaking traditional norms regarding alcohol or drugs and teaching teens that it's not "normal" or "acceptable" to abuse these substances.
In explaining to your children that substance abuse is not an acceptable matter, you are working to establish guidelines and expectations for living. Teens must know what is expected from them in order to fulfill their obligations and to feel comfortable with their routines. By setting clear and concise expectations in terms of:
- Family Involvement
- Community Involvement
You are teaching your teen that they can do what's right. Teens who recognize that their decision to abuse drugs would result in clear disappointment by their parents and may lead to serious consequences are more likely to avoid such substances.
Every parent wants to believe that his or her daughter or son is perfect, trust worthy and sober - but the truth is, things happen. Peer pressure can be overwhelming, temptation can take over and teens can make poor decisions. Parents should monitor teens to ensure that they aren't using drugs.
- Asking teens where they are going and who they will be with.
- Meeting friends and social acquaintances in person to get a feel for the types of people your teens is spending time with.
- Following up with the teen to ensure that he or she really is where he or she should be.
- Asking questions and demanding that answers are provided.
- Checking in with teens regularly and at unscheduled intervals.
- Getting involved in any way that you can.
Monitoring your teen is one of the best methods of drug abuse prevention. By checking in, asking questions, and following up, you will know what your teen is doing and with who. These small steps can make a major difference in the outcome and in the decisions that your child makes regarding the use of drugs or alcohol in his or her spare time.