Substance Abuse Prevention Tips for Parents

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Substance abuse prevention techniques become especially important when you become a parent. Of course you want to teach your children to resist peer pressure, but it can be easier said than done. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, the primary reason that kids don’t use substances is because of their parents’ positive influence. Children who don’t want to disappoint their parents are more likely to say no to drugs or alcohol, which is good news for parents.

Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies for Parents

Start early

Don’t wait to talk to your kids about substance abuse prevention. Start communicating with them early and often. Encourage your children to ask questions; the more they understand, the more they are likely to see your point. Make it clear that talking about drugs and alcohol is not taboo in your house. You want your children to feel comfortable bringing it up.

Teach them how to say no

Saying no to drugs is sometimes not as easy as you may think. Simply telling your child to say no may not prepare them for the peer pressure they feel in a real-life situation. Help prepare them for that by discussing potential environments and situations where they may be offered substances. Come up with different strategies for saying no, including what to do if someone won’t take no for an answer.

Set boundaries

As the parent, you are the one to set household rules that support substance abuse prevention. Establish clear rules and consequences and don’t waver. Keep in mind that overly harsh rules can be counter-effective, leading to rebellious behavior. Conversely, showing praise when your children exhibit exemplary behavior is a great way of encouraging them.

Get involved

Be an active presence in your child’s life. Ask them how they are, how their day was. Know who their friends are and help them choose friends wisely. Attend sports events, school concerts, and other activities they’re involved in. Spend time with them each day. This may become harder as your children grow into their teenage years, but be there for them as much as you can.

Explain the consequences

Substance abuse prevention can be more effective when children understand the consequences of using drugs and alcohol. Don’t let a glamorized media image be all they see; talk to them about how cigarettes can turn their teeth yellow or make their clothes smell bad. Explain that alcohol can make you use poor judgment, vomit, and detract from your physical health. When your children know what might happen to them in specific terms, not vague long-term ones, they may realize the importance of staying away.

Set an example

Children look to their parents to set an example for behavior and values. Show them ways to have fun that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. Get creative. Open the floor for conversation when you see someone in a film or television show who goes against the values you are encouraging in your child. If you tell your child not to smoke but smoke yourself, you are setting a very confusing example. Practice what you preach.