As substance abuse rates rise we find ourselves worrying about the health of our youth more than ever. That said, it is important to have preventive measures ready when your child comes to you with questions or gets to be that age where you know drugs or alcohol may be presented through his or her peers. You may come to learn that the school your child attends actually provides substance abuse education classes. This can be very beneficial, as it will teach your child all the dangers of use and abuse of substances, along with what to do when a situation arises where they are faced with the opportunity to do them.
Although, just because the school teaches it does not mean prevention will be fully effective. The odds are much stronger that your child will listen to you more so then the lessons that they are taught in school. But how do you talk to your child about this? What do you say? The best thing you can do is be honest with them while also being knowledgeable. If you do not know much about drugs, then it may be time to do some research for both you and your child. Take this as an opportunity to learn together. It is best to be prepared to answer any questions that they may have whether they be obvious or off-the-wall. Ensure them that there are no stupid questions. As a starting point, you may find it best to use statistics. This can offer more of an objective idea of how drugs can affect everyone and open a door that leads to further discussion.
You may find it helpful to have tips ready for your child if and when they are ever presented with the opportunity to use a possibly harmful substance.
- It’s okay to say “No” – Peer pressure can be one of the hardest things that youth has to deal with. For many teens all they want is to fit in and they are told that if they drink alcohol or smoke marijuana it will make them more cool, and even appealing to the opposite sex. Ensure that your teen knows they are valuable, and real friends wouldn’t judge them for abstaining.
- Build connections without pressure – If all of your child’s friends are pushing and pressuring them to do something they do not want to do, are they his or her true friends? It can be a challenging task, but helping your child realize this and accept it can make a big difference in the long run.
- Be a role model – Whether your child believes it or not, other classmates are watching him or her. By their setting an example against drugs, they can show others as well that it is okay to say no and better help them avoid peer pressure. More so, if there are younger siblings in the picture they can be a role model for them as well.
- Always have a plan – As your child gets older they will be wanting to go to more social events and parties, a number of which may involve some people using substances. If these things happen and get out of hand, it is important that you and your child have a plan. More than that, let them know that no matter what, calling you is always an option.
While there has always been conflict as to whether or not substance use prevention is effective on teens, this does not mean it should not be done. If even one teenager is reached by prevention efforts, it is worthwhile.