How can parents prevent drug abuse and drug use?
How can I prevent my child from abusing drugs?
For the first two decades of my marriage, my husband, Dean, was addicted to drugs and alcohol. As a result, one of my biggest fears was that my only child would also fall into these patterns of drug abuse. After all, how could I serve as a positive example, when his own father was struggling. But, fortunately, my son was able to avoid abusing drugs, and he is now a healthy and productive 25 year old man. I believe it was clear communication that helped keep him on the right path.
Most parents believe that drugs will never play a role in their children’s lives. At the same time, most parents would be shocked to know just how prevalent children and prescription drug abuse is throughout our schools. It really doesn’t matter where you live, drugs are prominent everywhere. This isn’t just an inner city issue. In fact, in my city it is the higher class neighborhoods who are having the bigger drug issues because the children and teens have more access to money. So do you know what to do if your kid is using drugs or how you can prevent drug use in the first place?
10 ways parents can prevent drug use and abuse
So just how can parents prevent drug abuse from happening with their children and teens? Here are my ten (10) suggestions. If you have something to add, or a question to ask…please do so in the comments section at the end. We try to respond to each comment personally and promptly.
1. Set a positive example. It’s obviously more difficult to teach your children to ‘say no’ when your own actions are teaching them to ‘say yes.’ As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, my husband struggled with addiction which gave me an additional obstacle to face when teaching my son about drugs and alcohol. Because of this, I was always extra careful to set a positive example from my own actions. I also talked to my son often about the consequences of drugs and alcohol, and he was able to see first-hand the devastation that drug abuse can cause on a person and a family.
2. Ask open-ended questions. These are questions that can’t be answered with “yes” or “no” responses. For example: instead of asking, “Did you have a good day? Ask something like, “What did you eat for lunch today?” This will help get the communication flowing.
3. Practice open communication daily. Research shows that a positive influence by parents can help prevent drug abuse in children and teens. By creating an atmosphere that allows open communication, without judgment, your children will be more receptive to your opinions and insights. Take time to talk with your children every day. Don’t get discouraged if they aren’t very open at first – over time they will open up. Taking time to talk every day will lead to a stronger parent/child relationship, and, as a result, your children are more likely to alert you to problems before they get out-of-hand.
4. Get involved in your children’s lives. Get to know their friends, attend their events, keep up-to-date with how they’re doing in school, help them with their homework, go to a movie or go shopping together. Take advantage of every opportunity to spend time together. While it’s important for your children to find their independence and spend time away from home, this doesn’t mean that a relationship with you is no longer important. In fact, it is still the most important relationship in their lives.
5. Be nonjudgmental. If your child shares something concerning, appreciate this honestly and share your guidance and concern with an open and understanding approach. As difficult as this may be, if you handle these times wrong, you could risk losing your child’s trust and deter them from coming to you again. While it’s healthy to express your disappointment in a certain action, you want to avoid cutting your child down as a person.
6. Talk about drugs and alcohol early on. Parents can’t assume that drug use won’t happen to their children. Every child and teen wants to fit in, and if they aren’t prepared to face this issue, they may not know how to ‘say no’ when the time comes. As early as the fourth grade, children may feel peer pressure to experiment with drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. Don‘t risk your child facing this pressure without having had your guidance first.
7. Set clear rules and enforce them. While you want to build a positive relationship with your children, you don’t want the boundaries between being a parent and child to fade. You are responsible for the safety of your children. And part of that safety is setting clear rules and not allowing your children to break those rules without consequences.
8. Be a parent instead of a friend. Kids, even teens, thrive in an environment where they know what to expect. When you try to “fit in” with your child or teenager, you lose your authority to enforce rules. So, when you are confronted with the option, choose discipline over friendship.
9. Praise your children often. We all feed on positive reinforcement. Children thrive on having the approval of their parents. It builds self-esteem which leads to the confidence to ‘say no’ when and if the time comes. Even during those phases when your child seems to be driving you crazy, look for the opportunities to praise.
10. Educate yourself about drugs. Knowledge is power. When you understand the risks of drug use, abuse and addiction, and arm yourself with knowledge about different drugs and the signs of potential drug abuse, you are able to share your knowledge with your children. Plus, get to know the signs your kids is on drugs. When educated about drugs, you will be more capable of handling a possible issue if it arises. Addiction Blog is the perfect place to start.
How to talk with your child about drugs
While talking about drugs is not the conversation most parents look forward to having with their children, you can’t afford to leave your children unprepared to face this challenge. It is more likely than not that they will eventually face some type of peer pressure to experiment, and your actions today can lead to your children’s strength to ‘say no’ in the future.
Do you still have questions about how you can prevent drug use? Are you concerned that your kid is using drugs? Please let us know what you are thinking by replying in the comment form below. We are here to help!
Photo credit: Girls Health [dot] gov