Wednesday April 1st 2015

Top 10 effective ways to reduce teenage drug and alcohol abuse

Top 10 effective ways to reduce teenage drug and alcohol abuse

Calling all parents interested in teen drug and alcohol use

Family life influences teenagers. Although you may not be able to control situations outside of the family (your kids’ peers, schools, communities, and society), you guide the culture of your family. For this you are responsible and accountable.

Prevention of drug and alcohol problems

Part of dealing with alcohol and drug problems is to stop them from ever occurring. Part of this list includes protective factors developed by experts to teach parents how to make family like important, promote mental health, and prevent underage use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.  If you can create the following conditions at home, you can help decrease a child’s chances for taking drugs or engaging in other risky behaviors. To reduce a teenager’s risk for becoming involved with alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs, here are the top 10 effective ways to prevent or reduce teenage drug and alcohol abuse:

1. Model the behavior you seek.

Be a positive role model yourself. Walk the talk. Don’t expect teens to stop  drinking or stay away from drugs if you don’t.

2. Resolve personal or family issues.

Seek family counseling or psychotherapy for any family issues about substance abuse, violence, divorce or illness in your family. Get the help you need so that you can be sure that your family unit (and teenager) are mentally healthy.

3. Know what’s going on.

Be involved in your teenager’s life. Know who their friends are, what they are doing and where. Encourage their independence but set appropriate limits like curfews and check-in times. Keep teens accountable with consequences for stretching beyond the limits.

4.  Teach the science of drugs and alcohol.

Talk about drinking and drugs – not just the statistics, but the science behind it. This requires research on the brain science of what substances do to the body. A good place to start is NIDA for Teens or The Science of Addiction.

5. Know the law.

Research your state’s laws around underage drinking and drug use. Then, sit down with your teenager and review the legal consequences of getting caught.

6. Create a drinking and drug contract.

A family drinking and drug contract helps make expectations and rules clear about alcohol consumption for teens and parents.  And it brings issues into the open. For example, offer to always be available to drive your teenager home if they end up at a party and either get drunk or high, or their ride gets drunk or high. Check out a Sample Teen Drinking and Drug Family Contract for download here.

7.  Get educated about substance abuse.

Know the warning signs of teen drinking or drug problems (and the factors that increase risk such as depression, family history of addiction or social transitions), and have a plan for seeking help if your family needs it.

8.  Help find alternative activity options for your teen.

Learn about community and school activities that may interest your teen and encourage him/her to participate. Teenagers who are active in sports, volunteering, social or church groups are less likely to get bored, or seek out drugs and alcohol for fun.

9. Look outside the family for mentoring help.

Encourage your teenager to seek and find a positive mentor outside the family who   will reinforce your family’s beliefs and values. Your teen can formally seek a mentor through religious or spiritual groups or informally through sports teams or school activities. Then, check in with your teen’s mentor to get another perspective on his/her life.

10.  One-on-one time.

Drug testing a teen should always be a last resort when trying to help your child. Regularly spend time with your teenager and give your loving, undivided attention. Some sample activities to share: a walk, bowling, playing tennis, a bike ride, a quiet dinner out, or cooking together.

Reference sources: NIAAA Publication “Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child about Alcohol”
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Community How To Guide On…PREVENTION & EDUCATION
Commonwealth of Virginia Governor’s Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (GOSAP) Parent Guide to Preventing Underage Drinking
The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking (2007)
SAMHSA: Too smart to start

Photo credit: kr4gin

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14 Responses to “Top 10 effective ways to reduce teenage drug and alcohol abuse
Herndon Virginia
11:14 pm June 18th, 2011

Appreciate the details here. Was easy to read.

1:13 am July 28th, 2012

Thank you for the information. I don’t think the problem of teen drug abuse is addressed often enough. People need help and we need resources to meet the demand. My son was addicted to drugs and he got help from a sober living house. Parents can look into them as an alternative to kids staying home.

6:40 am December 22nd, 2012

Hi! Can you please help guide me in the best direction to help my troubled 12 yr old nephew. His parents are currently separated and he is now doing drugs. Any suggestions would be appreciated!


12:39 pm January 2nd, 2013

Hi Jeanette. I’d suggest that you read more on theantidrug[dot] com and check out their related links. Also, you can always call 1-800-662-HELP, which is the 24-7 hotline number for the National Drug Abuse Council. I hope that this helps!

4:13 pm September 26th, 2014


I need help looking for a program for my brother, we’ve done anything and nothing seems to be working. I would like to find an in-house program where I can send him for few months where he can get treatment and counseling, I don’t have much money, but I am willing to pay if the fee is not too much….if you can please provide me with some direction or options I truly appreciated.


9:56 am October 2nd, 2014

Hi Maria. You can use our treatment facility locator: where you can make a more precise selection of location, payment options and type of program that will be fit for your brother’s need and for your pocket, too.
You can do the same here:

11:30 pm October 5th, 2014

What if u have told ur adult addicted son to leave and he refuses

12:08 pm October 6th, 2014

Hi Lisa. It seems to me like you need some professional assistance in handling your son’s addiction problem. Friends and family are a great source of support, but you might benefit a professional’s guidance and advise. So, all is not lost and you can start with that aids families and individuals who deal with alcoholism, or where you can get involved in their daily meetings for support of loved ones of addicts. NAMI has local support groups, a crisis hotline, and offers help for parents and family members of people struggling with mental illness.

I’d also suugest readin this literature:

8:54 pm October 19th, 2014

my 19 year old son has lie 3 times about smoking weed and drinking. The stress of having no help as my wife is also leaving me after 30 years never wanting to get married doesn’t love me anymore. I don’t drink, smoke attend college ( in my second year). At age 55 it hurts me that I have no choice to leave both because they find every excuse to be negative and just wait for me to make a mistake like being pushy even though I have left them both alone to do what they want the last 2 years, they still are not happy and even though I see them making many mistakes I say nothing anymore.

10:46 pm December 28th, 2014

hi, my son is on drugs & i have just got him to go to a rehab centre but its not working. he keeps relapsing. what he needs is to be taken somewhere where he is not allowed out so that he cant go & get any drugs. do you know of anywhere that will do this. he has gone from taking weed & is now taking heroin sometimes. we live in portsmouth. i am desperate for help. thank you

11:19 am December 29th, 2014

Hi Sandie. Thank you for your persistence in getting help for your son. I’d suggest you use a Treatment Locator: or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for guidance in selecting the treatment program that will help your son.

5:37 am February 8th, 2015

I have a 20 year old who refuses to admit he is an addict. He smokes weed all the time not sure if he used additional drugs I belive he does. I already kicked him out. I don’t give him money but I do but him food. I can’t stand to see him like this it’s kill meI have tried crying,begging,yelling nothing works. I don’t want to see or hear him because it hurts. I’m about to tell him I don’t want to see or talk to him if he has money for that he has money for food. He either gets sober join rehab or he is out of my life my heart breaks but I still have a 10 year old that needs me & it’s taki a toll on my health. He tells me I don’t care or love him I wish to God that that were true so I wiu be in so much pain & guilt. Is tough love my only option I’m desperate not sure what to do. I’m a single mom

5:53 pm February 10th, 2015

Hello Sandy. Have you spoken with a counselor or a psychologist? It’s a difficult situation that you cannot handle on your own. Talk to a professonal, they can give you valuable advise on how to talk to your son, how to support him, and how to continue the care for you and your 10year old. He shouldn’t think your door is closed forever. Maybe make it clear that you are willing to help and support him when he decides to pick himself up. I hope your voice gets through to him sooner. I wish you all the best!

11:58 pm March 8th, 2015

My son is not a teenager anymore. ..he is a 25 yr old adult with a heroin addiction. He moved out…renting a room…and working for a temp agency …but they ran out of work and he isnt able to pull all the rent money together so his dad has been helping him for the last 3 mo. My son got his tax refund so I told him he can pay two months rent with that while he looks for work..but instead he only gave one mo rent and spent the rest on drugs and now will want help with rent again…what do we have to do? Totally cut him off financially? Please help us with this heartbreaking situation.

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