Kids these days are using fewer drugs than other generations, according to the 2016 Monitoring the Future Survey. In fact, the use of many substances, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, cigarettes, and meth, is at its lowest since the survey began in 1975. Programs that are aimed at preventing teenage drug abuse seem to be working, but there’s still a long way to go. Here are five parents tips for drug abuse prevention among teens.
1. Talk to your teen.
The earlier you start talking to your child about drug abuse, the better. Talking to your young child about healthy habits and the potential damage drugs can do sets the stage for more detailed conversations later on.
Rather than lecturing your teen about drugs, engage her in conversation. Ask her if she knows anyone who uses drugs, and ask her what she thinks about it. Move the conversation forward from there, restating your expectations concerning drugs and expressing hope that your teen will continue to make good choices for herself.
Much of teen drug abuse prevention is helping teens figure out how to refuse drugs without causing problems for their social life. During your conversations with your teen, help her come up with strategies for refusing drugs, and role-play with your child so that when the time comes, it’s easy for her to just say no.
2. Spend time together as a family.
Spending quality time together as a family is one of the best tips for preventing teenage drug abuse. A study published in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors shows that parents have considerable influence over whether their child does drugs, and a good relationship with your child gives you more influence over his actions and behaviors.
Spend time every day talking to your teen about his interests, his life, his education, current events, music, movies, or whatever interests him. Having dinner together as a family each night is a good opportunity to keep up with his daily life and have pleasant conversations that build rapport and trust.
3. Encourage extracurricular activities.
Research shows that extracurricular activities like playing a sport or joining an academic club are effective deterrents for preventing teenage drug abuse. Encourage your child to pursue her interests through a club at school or an outside organization. Being part of a sports or academic team has also been shown to improve academic performance, increase self-esteem, improve family relationships, and help teens handle stress better, all of which can go a long way toward keeping your teen off drugs.
4. Promote Social Responsibility
Helping others is an excellent tool for teen drug abuse prevention, according to a study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescents, which found that teens who engaged in volunteer work were less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than their non-volunteering counterparts. Whether your child is interested in animals, politics, the environment, or business, you can find a volunteer opportunity that suits her.
5. Help your child set goals
Having goals is one of the best methods for preventing teenage drug abuse. Setting goals and working toward them keeps your teen focused on the future. It helps him develop a sense of purpose and meaning in life, which is another powerful tool for teen drug abuse prevention. Listen to your teen’s hopes and dreams for the future, help him identify his inherent strengths and values and develop a set of actionable goals for his future
These parents tips for drug abuse prevention can go a long way toward helping your teen stay drug-free during high school and beyond. The most important thing you can do is develop a strong, healthy relationship with your teen built on trust and mutual admiration that will help keep your teen close and connected to you during the turbulent teenage years.
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.