13 Tips for Preventing Teen Drug Abuse
More than half of all teenagers have misused a drug at least once in their life. For many, what starts as casual, “innocent” experimentation, can develop into a full-blown addiction.
Teenagers encounter a lot of social pressure. They are dealing with hormones, defining who they are, and learning where they fit in the social dynamics in school and their free time. As we can all remember, this is a challenging period of personal development; worse off, teens are frequently afraid to reach out to their adult support systems for help.
Since it is impossible to be with your teen 24/7, it is crucial to structure the best environment for their success. This environment includes educating teens about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and how they can navigate pressures from their peers. This education can be a tall order for any concerned guardian. We are here to help.
This article will give you 13 tips to help prevent teen drug and alcohol abuse in your home.
Keep reading to learn more.
1. Know the Risk Factors that Lead to Addiction
Drug addiction and alcohol abuse are far too common. More than 20 million Americans have struggled with addiction, but less than 10% have received treatment.
The best way to avoid your teen becoming a part of this harrowing statistic is prevention. In order to prevent addiction, you must understand the different risk factors leading up to it. Talking with your teenager about how serious drug addiction is and how it can affect their lives is crucial.
Several of the risk factors that can lead to addiction are as follows:
Childhood trauma: If a child has experienced a severe traumatic event, they have a much higher risk of turning to alcohol or drugs to help reduce the pain.
Genetics: Teens with immediate family members that have addiction issues are more prone to struggling with it themselves.
Environment: If teenagers are exposed to drinking or drug use by their friends or family members, they may be more likely to partake.
Early use: The earlier a teenager begins using narcotics, the higher the risk of developing an addiction.
Mental health issues: If your teenager struggles with ADHD, anxiety, or depression, they might turn to drugs or alcohol to medicate their symptoms.
Impulse control: Teens with impulse control issues are generally at a greater risk of abusing drugs and alcohol as they are less likely to think through the choice comprehensively beforehand.
2. Access to Substances
As we have previously covered, a teenager’s environment influences their lifestyle choices. We encourage you to observe their environment. Is there easy access to liquor?
The number one place teenagers try alcohol for the first time is in their own homes. So if you have easily accessible liquor, we suggest you put it under lock and key to make the choice for your teen simpler.
Equally important to locking up the liquor cabinet is being aware of the available drugs in the medicine cabinets at home. Teenagers typically find access to their first narcotics at home. It is suggested that any medications that are also known to have street value are locked safely away from teens.
If your teen is at the age where they are learning to drive, it is essential to have a serious talk about the risk of combining that with drinking.
3. Don't Deny the Issue at Hand
No matter how smart, kind, or strong your child is, the truth is that no one is immune to alcohol or drug use. Everyone faces social pressure or curiosity. It is important to know that even the most well-rounded teens may be susceptible to the allure of drugs or alcohol.
Keeping your child busy with constructive activities is a great way of setting them up for success. These activities can include music, community service, and sports. It is crucial to remember that even if your teen has a 4.0 GPA or a potential sports scholarship, they can still come into contact with illicit substances.
The best form of addiction prevention is communication. The more frequent and approachable the conversation, the better. When a foundation of trust and transparency is developed, there is no better tool in the fight against addiction.
Don’t only speak to your teen when you are scared or worried. Let them know how proud you are of them and that you are available in whatever way they need.
Learning more about your teen can also illuminate some of their passions. If you find constructive passions, support your teen in them. The more time your teen spends doing something they love, the less likely they will turn to drugs or alcohol.
4. Don't Resort to Confrontation
Communication is key, but some types are less effective. When building a supportive environment for your teen, it is good to talk openly and honestly about the realities of drug abuse, not to use scare tactics and unrealistic threats.
If you have reason to be concerned or are nervous about starting a conversation with your teen, the best advice is not to be confrontational. Rather than saying, “are you using drugs?” in an accusatory manner, ask them if they know anyone that is using drugs and how they feel about that.
Due to the importance of these conversations, they can become emotional. As the guardian, it is crucial to keep your wits about you. Talk with your teen calmly and show them you are a safe place to confide. If this does not work, consider finding a therapist for your adolescent. If they can’t talk to you, they must speak to someone. A trained professional is a great choice.
5. Be a Good Example
Remember, you are the number one role model for your teen. If you regularly drink or smoke, your child may mirror that behavior. Even if you only have the occasional beer or glass of wine, explain to your teen that you are an adult and are making choices and accepting risks that you have the experience to make.
Set a clear expectation for what is and is not allowed. For whatever rules you set, make sure to be consistent. If you allow your teen to have a sip of your wine one day and then yell at them when they want to have another, the message will get lost in translation.
6. Be Aware of Marijuana Use
Marijuana doesn’t have the same stigma as it did ten years ago. With legalization happening in many states, it’s important to know how it affects different people.
There are several forms of marijuana use, including smoking, edibles, dabbing, hash, and more. Techniques like dabbing and the use of extracts like shatter, wax, or budder can be significantly more potent and may have damaging long-term effects.
Even if it is legalized, marijuana is still considered a gateway drug. Make sure you and your teens are informed about the substance.
7. Be Aware of Drug Code Words
Lingo and codewords evolve in youth culture daily. It can be hard to keep track of the ever-changing language, but watch out for any communications your teen may have that involve suspicious-looking works.
Some words that are used to communicate the abuse of cold medication include:
- Red Devils
- Triple C
Some slang for marijuana includes:
- Mary Jane
- Zig Zag
It may be challenging but stay on top of new trends as best you can. Stay vigilant about your teen’s potential involvement.
9. Know What Substance Paraphernalia Looks Like
If your teen is using drugs or alcohol, there will be signs. Some common signs include:
- Empty medical bottles or wrappers
- Burn marks on their rugs and clothes
- Ashes and smoke stench around them
Make sure to check pockets, cars, closets, under beds, and even the garbage can. If you use prescription drugs, make sure to count them regularly.
Other tools used to cover up drug use includes eye drops, incense, breath mints, and body spray. Other drug paraphernalia includes:
- Pill bottles
- Glass vials
- Makeup bags
- Glass pipes or bongs
- Small plastic baggies
- Cigarette boxes
- Electronic cigarettes
- Lipstick dispensers
Teenagers can get creative when it comes to hiding substances. Try your best to stay aware of any changes.
10. Know Your Child's Friends
Being aware of who your teen spends the most time with is essential. The friends your teen chooses can reflect their values. Your child may not know the red flags associated with some of the people they spend time with, but if you stay vigilant, you may be able to help them before anything transpires.
Friendship is an integral part of a teen’s psychological well-being. With that in mind, show interest in your teen’s social group. Invite their friends over to your house. This invitation will help show your support for your teen and allow you to see the nature of their friendships. It can also be helpful to get to know the parents of your child’s friends. Developing these parental friendships can help you open up a dialogue with those parents, potentially gaining valuable insight and information.
11. Contracts Can Be a Helpful Tool
Creating a contract can be helpful in your relationship with your kids, but only if you follow through on all the rules. Make sure to create clear and concise expectations to avoid any confusion.
Invite your teen to join in the brainstorming of this contract. Allow them to participate in creating the boundaries and expectations by which you expect them to live. This participation and inclusion of time for questions and concerns only strengthens your relationship and may make them more likely to follow the contract because they feel like a collaborator.
12. Know the Consequences of Substance Abuse
Addiction awareness means understanding the potential consequences of both short and long-term use. Drug and alcohol use have associated health concerns but can also lead to:
- Poor judgment in social interactions
- Unsafe sexual activity
- Mental health disorders
- Impaired driving
- Lower school performance
Make sure both you and your child understand the consequences of drug abuse.
13. Use Positive Reinforcement
A teen will respond best using positive reinforcement rather than threatening or yelling at them. Being a teenager can be lonely and scary, and it may be helpful to give your teen hugs and let them know how much you love them. Another positive reinforcement technique is to reward them for not using drugs or alcohol.
Teach them that healthy behavior will lead to rewards not only in your household but also in the outside world.
Avoid Teen Drug Abuse
The best way to prevent teen drug abuse is to be informed about the signs and have a clear, healthy relationship with your child. Addiction can be a devastating disease that destroys families and lives.
There is always hope if your teenager is already struggling with drug abuse. Your child will receive some of the best support at Sunshine Care Centers. We offer a safe, secure, empathetic environment so that they can heal.
Teen Rehabilitation at Sunshine Care Centers
At Sunshine Care Centers, we work hard to provide a clean and secure environment for teens to express their thoughts and emotions during treatment. We understand that addiction is experienced differently by everyone. We are dedicated to safely guiding patients through detox and establishing a treatment plan that works for your teen. Please don’t wait to get them the help they need to reach their recovery goals.