Keeping your teen away from drugs and alcohol

06/12/2014 7:00 AM

06/10/2014 11:59 AM

It’s not easy being a parent to a teenager these days. It’s almost impossible to keep track of everything you need to be aware of. Danger seems to be lurking around every corner. One of those dangers continues to be drugs and alcohol. That’s why we’ve put together some ways to help parents raise healthy and drug free kids.

1. Kids who learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use than those who do not. Be present and involved in your child’s life, talk and listen to your child regularly and make it clear that you do not want him or her drinking or using drugs. Provide them with solid, fact-based reasons why, how drugs and alcohol could affect their future plans, and express how much you love them and want the best for them.

2. Start the conversation about drugs and alcohol early, well before they hit the teen years. And remember, this is not a one-time conversation. You need to speak to your kids about this over and over. Approach the topic when you have a few minutes on the ride to school or over a family dinner. Make your feelings a mantra so they know how strongly you feel.

3. At some point, most kids will feel peer pressure and need to be prepared for how to handle the situation before it happens. An alarming number of teenagers are intentionally abusing a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications to get high. Know what kids are faced with today, what drugs are the new ones to be abused and be informed. The more you know, the more your kids will listen. Give them ideas for handling peer pressure and always encourage them to make good choices.

4. Reconsider keeping a stocked, easily accessible liquor cabinet or regular beer in the fridge and always secure prescription drugs. Make drugs and alcohol less accessible for your kids and their friends. It doesn’t erase the potential, but makes it more difficult.

5. Encourage your kids to be active and busy. If they are involved in sports or extra-curricular activities they have less free time on their hands and are less prone to trying drugs.

6. Poor self-esteem and low confidence is one of several factors that can lead to substance abuse in teenagers. A teen who has a low opinion of himself or herself might turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to boost confidence, fit in with a group of peers and improve social skills. Help your child deal these issues early on and do what you can to promote a healthy self-esteem and belief in self.

7. Be clear with your child about the consequences of using drugs and alcohol, not just consequences you implement (such as grounding, no use of car, etc.), but also sports- and school-related activities they are involved in. There is the potential of being suspended from school, sitting out games or being kicked off team sports.

Prevention and communication are two of your most effective tools in keeping your teen safe and healthy. Keep talking and while it might appear that your words fall on deaf ears, the reality is that they not only hear you, but may actually listen.

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