If you are concerned about your teen's drug use, you are not alone. Many parents have experienced this same concern and have taken proactive steps to ensure their teen doesn't start using drugs or alcohol. One of the best ways to do this is by learning more about drug use, such as what happens when a person uses drugs and alcohol and what types of substances teens commonly abuse.
This article will help answer some common questions while providing tips for parents who want to keep their children away from substance abuse when they're young — or at any age.
Set a good example
Be a good role model. This is one of the most important things you can do as a parent, and it's also a tough one: If you want to keep your kids away from drugs, don't use them yourself.
Don't drink in front of your kids. If they see their parents drinking, they're more likely to think it's okay for them (or any kid) to do so as well.
Don't get drunk in front of your kids. Again, if they see their parents getting drunk regularly or on occasion, this will send a message about alcohol use that may be confusing or misleading for them—and could lead them down the same path later on in life.
Be attentive to changes in behavior
You know your child better than anyone else — so if something seems off with their behavior, don't ignore it. Pay attention to changes in mood or attitude as well as changes in eating or sleeping patterns. If your child suddenly becomes secretive, secretive, or withdrawn, this could be a sign that they're using drugs or alcohol.
Know what's going on with friends
The best way to find out if your child is experimenting with drugs is by spending time with them and getting to know their friends better. If something doesn't seem right with one of their friends, ask them about it — but try not to make accusations or judgments. This can make kids feel defensive and unwilling to talk about what's really going on behind closed doors at home or at school parties or bother events where drugs may be available.
Set clear boundaries early on
Being involved in your child's life is one of the best things you can do to help them avoid substance abuse issues later on in life. Set clear boundaries early on, and make sure your teen knows that breaking those boundaries will result in serious consequences.
Encourage open communication between you and your teenager
You should always be available for your teenager to talk about anything — even if it seems like something small at first glance. This will help build trust between the two of you so that if something bigger does come up later down the line, there will be an open line of communication already established between the two of you.
Don't share your drinking stories
Kids will ask you about drinking, especially if they start noticing that you are a bit tipsy after a few drinks. The temptation to brag and boast about your own drinking prowess can be strong but remember: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” applies here. If you don't want your child to drink alcohol or use drugs, then don't talk about it like it's something fun and cool!
Don't tell them that you can drink more than them or brag about how much you used to drink when they were younger will only fuel their curiosity and make them feel compelled to try it themselves just so they can prove themselves better than someone else who may have been able to out-drink them in the past (or some other silly reason).
Talk about the risks associated with drug use and alcohol abuse
One of the most effective ways to prevent teen drug use is by talking about the dangers associated with these substances. Talk openly about how drugs affect people physically and mentally, as well as the legal consequences of using them.
If you suspect your teen has been using drugs, ask him or her directly if this is true. Your teen may be relieved to share his or her secret with you instead of hiding it from you any longer.
Identify high-risk situations that may lead to teen drug use or substance abuse
For example, if there is excessive peer pressure, look for ways to reduce it or remove your teen from the situation. If you suspect your teen has been using alcohol or drugs, take action. If you suspect your teen is depressed, seek professional counseling as soon as possible.
Set curfews and other rules of conduct for teens that are consistent and enforceable
This will help limit the number of opportunities they have to get into trouble with drugs or alcohol. If the rules seem too restrictive or unreasonable, consider revising them so they are more reasonable and workable for everyone involved. The important thing is to have rules that are consistently enforced by both parents and teens alike!
Provide support for mental health issues and emotional problems
Teens who feel pressured by parents or teachers to excel in academics or sports may turn to drugs or alcohol as an escape from stress. Talk to your child about how he feels about schoolwork and other activities, and encourage him to talk about his feelings about life in general with someone he trusts who can help him deal with stress without turning to drugs or alcohol.
As the parent of a teenager, you have an important role to play in keeping your teen from engaging in dangerous behaviors. It's not always easy to know how to get it right, though—after all, teenagers are individuals and they're going to do what they want.
But by arming yourself with knowledge on drug use and abuse as well as ways you can keep your teen safe, you can help them avoid potentially harmful situations without being overbearing or intrusive.
Hopefully, this article has helped you identify ways your children can grow up healthy and happy—with no regrets! If you have additional questions or if you would like to talk about your unique situation, please give contact us today.