Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention – 24/7/365
Drug and alcohol abuse prevention starts at home. By making your home environment a place where open communication is welcomed, you are making a great start in preventing substance abuse. Parents are excellent role models, and children often subconsciously mirror the behavior they see. What can you do at home to maximize drug and alcohol abuse prevention?
Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention at Home
Talk Early, Talk Often
Don’t wait for your son or daughter to start the conversation about drugs and alcohol; that day may never come. Establish your house as a zone of open communication by bringing up the subject when your child is young. That doesn’t mean delivering lectures about the evils of substances to a six-year-old, but it does mean bringing age-appropriate topics to their attention.
Kids are naturally curious, and may have questions about things they see on television. Encourage them to ask those questions, even if they surprise you. Answer as honestly as possible and avoid telling them that they’re too young to understand. It may feel like you’re protecting your children by postponing the conversation, but it may one day be too late for drug and alcohol abuse prevention.
Avoid sending the message that people who use drugs and alcohol are ‘bad people.’ Focus instead on the negative effects these substances can have on your body and your life. Ask your children to look past the initial reasons people do drugs or drink (pleasure, peer pressure, curiosity, rebellion) and to see what the consequences can be (poor health, loss of interest in life, addiction).
As an adult, you know why drug and alcohol abuse prevention is important, but you should try to make your children understand that for themselves. Simply telling them isn’t always enough. To make the message sink in, they need to connect the dots between substances and their consequences.
Lead By Example
Even when your children aren’t actively learning from you, they are passively learning from you. Your behavior at home sets a standard for their behavior, both now and in the future. Telling your children not to binge drink and then turning around and doing it yourself is not setting a good example for them. Stand by your words with your behavior, or you risk sending a conflicting message to your children. Be the kind of person you would like your children to emulate.
Round the Clock Attention
Drug and alcohol abuse prevention is a round-the-clock endeavor. It happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Children have amazing memories, and could easily latch on to one episode where you didn’t set an example or shut down a question about substance abuse. The good news is that the more you practice at-home substance abuse prevention, the easier it will become.
Like anything else, preventative behaviors can become a habit. When your children know that they can come to you with questions about substance abuse and look to you as an example of why they should avoid drugs and alcohol, they are in a good position to do the same themselves.