Prevention Guide for Parents

Tips on Preventing Substance Abuse in Children

Some parents may find themselves in a situation where they have to deal with an addict in their family. But is this situation preventable? For many parents, one of the biggest challenges about preventing their children from becoming an addict is that they don’t know how to deal with situations that could lead their children to addiction. Here is a look at some of the common causes of addiction in teens and some positive steps to take to prevent this in your home.

Statistics of Substance Use Disorder Among Teens & Children

Around 2.08 million people are addicted to drugs and alcohol in the United States alone. These numbers are increasing each year. By the end of their high school career, about 46.6% of teens have tried some substance. This does not mean that every child who samples a drug will become addicted. The statistics also show that nearly 8.5 million children under 18 years old in America have already been exposed to alcohol and/or drugs by peers or family members.

Marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco are the most commonly abused drugs among teens. Other substances like heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs can also be commonly used substances. Some teens start having a problem with alcohol and/or drugs at an early age, though not all of them are officially diagnosed in their teenage years.

According to NCDAS, 61.5% of teens had used alcohol by 12th grade between the year 2016 to 2020. During the same period, around 6.9% of teens had used marijuana.

According to Dr. Thomaso of Blue Crest Recovery Center, alcohol was ranked as the third-most likely drug to kill its users in the US. The data also shows that 40% of substance users who are underage have a substance use disorder.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is defined as an illness that compels a person to continue taking in a substance, even when they already know how dangerous it is. This illness is characterized by an inability to stop or control substance abuse. This lack of control can lead to self-destruction that can harm both the addict’s body and mind. A person who possesses this condition tends to use substances until their body gives up. It can lead to chronic illness and even death. Some of the signs of substance dependence include:

• Loss of control
• Increasing use
• Dependency

How to Talk to Teens and Children About Prevention

Follow these steps to decrease the likelihood that your child will have a substance abuse problem.

Step 1: Know the Facts

The first step in prevention is to know the facts. Anyone can become overwhelmed by the numbers and statistics, so keep it simple. Your child, like other teenagers in America, will also learn about drugs and alcohol from friends, the school, and the media.

The information you provide is less important than keeping lines of communication open. If you are at an event or watching a show where you see someone who is using a substance in an irresponsible way, it can make a good conversation starter. Have the facts you need ready but let your child’s curiosity take the lead when it comes to covering the topics. Try to be non-judgemental and let them know that the door is always open if they have more questions.

Step 2: Stay Patient

The second step in prevention is staying patient with your kids. Most of the time, kids are reluctant to talk to their parents about personal matters such as drugs and alcohol because it can lead to negative interactions in the home. Consider creating a “get out of jail free” card for your child if they find themselves in a situation where they are being pressured to try a substance. Let them know that they can call you if they are out and feel unsafe or if they become too impaired to drive home. Tell them that this will not come with punishment because they will be making a responsible choice to get out of the situation and return home safely.

Step 3: Help Them Understand the Consequences

The third step in prevention is to teach your child about the negative consequences of substance abuse. Many kids still don’t understand that there are consequences to their actions, which means they are more likely to misbehave. To convince your children that there are severe consequences if they take illegal drugs or binge on alcohol, you may need to show them using examples.

Learning to talk to teens about addiction is not easy, but it is possible. There is a lot of information available online if you are interested in knowing more about addiction and its prevention. If you’re not sure what to say, there are lots of FAQs that can be good conversation starters. You can even work with your child to research the answers to questions online together on sites that make sense to them.

Step 4: Avoid a Split-Second Decision

There are times when you might find yourself making spontaneous decisions about your kids. However, knowing what you will do in a situation where your child uses a substance will make it easier to do the right thing when you are highly emotional. Making a plan can help you to prevent reacting in a way that prevents your child from reaching out to you when they need you or putting them in danger.

This is especially helpful if you communicate the consequences of these actions ahead of time. If your kids know what will happen to them if they get in over their head, and if it’s reasonable, you are more likely to have them reach out for help when they need it.

Step 5: Monitor Your Kids/Teens

The fifth step in prevention is to monitor your kids. There are many ways of keeping an eye on your teens without making them seem like they are under house arrest. This needs to be a balancing act between trusting and verifying the information they give you.

Step 6: Do Not Discourage Your Kids

The sixth step in prevention is to avoid discouraging your kids. One of the most important things to remember is balancing being lenient and being strict. This way, you can effectively prevent your child from becoming a victim or a perpetrator of substance abuse. The more you know your child and where they feel confident versus where they struggle or feel stressed, the more you can help them to find ways to deal with situations that could lead to substance use, like peer pressure, a need to achieve, or a bad relationship.

Step 7: Provide Opportunities

The seventh step in prevention is providing opportunities for your children/teens. Children need to engage in various activities as a part of healthy development. Many substance users say that their first experience with drugs or alcohol was when they were bored and unsupervised. Activities that require mental focus and physical prowess can be their own prevention. If your child enjoys them, they will find that using substances may make it harder to be good at the things they love, and they may opt not to try things all on their own.

Step 8: Be a Positive Role Model

The eighth step in prevention is to show positive role models. One of the best ways to do this is by being a good parent with a healthy relationship to substances yourself. This is even more effective if you can model a healthy reaction to things that are stressful, maintain healthy friendships and relationships and act as a positive, giving influence to your family and the world around you.

Check Yourself for Denial

As a parent, another thing to watch for is if you are too positive and cannot see the bad things that are happening to your child. You cannot will away a substance abuse issue with positive thinking or changing the subject. If you suspect that your child is using substances, don’t avoid the subject. Make it a point to intervene early. If you feel like you are out of your element, talk to a professional who deals with substance abuse and teens to help you make a plan. The earlier in your child’s relationship to substances that you act, the more likely you are to help them stop an addiction.

Start Early

If you want your child to make smart choices when it comes to substances, then you need to start early. If you have alcohol in your home with younger children, begin the conversation early about what healthy consumption looks like. Talk about drugs and alcohol with your child and help them understand what they are all about before using them. Working with your kids to find alternative stress releases will also help them to avoid turning to substances when life becomes difficult.

The above steps are just a few of the most effective prevention strategies that have helped millions of families worldwide. Learn more by talking to us at Blue Crest Recovery Center.

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