Take steps early to stop teen drug abuse later.
The first step a parent can take to effectively stop teen drug abuse, is to teach children about the dangers associated with drug use at an early age. Young people experience a great deal of transition throughout childhood, including puberty, changing schools as they progress from one grade level to another, as well as facing social and academic challenges regularly. Some children also endure the pain of divorce during their youth. These times can be stressful and confusing for a child at any age. Although children can be exposed to cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol at almost any given time growing up, the risk of this type of exposure increases as they get older, especially upon entering high school, where illegal drugs become easier to obtain and are readily available.
At this stage, children are transitioning into early adulthood and are becoming more independent, which is a normal part of development as a young adult. While their judgment and decision-making abilities are still developing, the desire to try new things, take risks and fit in with peers, begins to take precedence. While prevention programs exist in school to stop teen drug abuse, it is essential that teens be well-informed by their parents about the risks associated with drug abuse as well. This awareness is necessary so teens are equipped to make the right decisions when confronted with a choice to experiment with drugs.
In addition to the programs children can participate in that prevent drug abuse in schools, here are five ways parents can prevent drug abuse at home:
- Teaching your child habits such as eating right, exercising, and getting enough rest can start as early as two to four years of age. Demonstrate the importance of brushing teeth and washing hands as part of taking care of and respecting our bodies. Introduce chores such as caring for pets and cleaning up small messes so children can learn what an accomplishment feels like. Allow your child to have a voice by letting them making certain choices, such as what clothes to wear, so they can begin to develop a healthy sense of self.
- As children grow, it is critical that parents keep the lines of communication open. Let your child know that they can feel comfortable talking with you about anything they hear or see that concerns them. In addition to speaking honestly with your child about healthy choices and the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol on their brains and bodies, it is important to listen to your child when they need someone to talk to.
- Parents are the most influential role models on their children. Actions speak louder than words. Your child looks to you to set an example, and they notice what you say and do. What you teach your child about cigarettes, alcohol and drugs will have no merit if you are smoking, drinking, or using drugs at home.
- Be consistent. Set clear and concise rules about not using drugs. Your children will come to you when they hear things like, “everybody drinks”, or “marijuana is harmless, it’s even legal in some states”. Your rules reflect your family’s beliefs and principles, not everyone else’s.
- Be there. Pay attention to what your children are consuming with regard to television shows, movies, the Internet and video games. There is a lot of inappropriate content that children will become exposed to that is almost impossible to avoid. It is in the way you take the opportunity to discuss these messages that will affect how children perceive and react to them.
Other ways parents can prevent drug abuse, include; knowing who their children are spending time with. Parents should get to know who their child’s friends are and make sure that they share similar ideals, morals, and goals. Other ways parents can prevent drug abuse is to talk to children about peer pressure and make sure they are comfortable saying no and standing up for themselves. Parents can also research advice on how to stop teen drug abuse and attend programs that prevent drug abuse in schools to stay knowledgeable. Finally, there are valuable online resources for parents to utilize that provide useful information about how to stop teen drug abuse, such as: The Mayo Clinic and the Partnership for Drug Free Kids.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.