Are you concerned about drug prevention when it comes to your teen?
Would some tips help you feel more confident that you can keep your child healthy?
Prevention is critical when it comes to teen substance use.
Parents who have clear, direct conversations about the dangers of substance use have a better chance of their children not becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol. And these conversation needs to happen often.
One size doesn’t fit all, but too many parents don’t talk about substance use often enough. With the dangerous drugs out there now, we need to step up our game. We need to help our kids stay safe.
We are gambling with our children’s lives when we don’t become proactive at the very first moment we suspect substance use. Our children need a parent’s guidance. They cannot make these important decisions for themselves at this point in their lives.
That is why it is so important to understand that teen alcohol and drug experimentation of any kind can lead to addiction. Not everyone who tries cigarettes, alcohol, or marijuana becomes addicted to harder drugs. However, most who have found themselves addicted to drugs like opioids usually use one of those three substances at some point.
Here are 13 tips to keep in mind when you are thinking about drug prevention.
1. Don’t let denial get in the way of prevention.
There is no teenager that is immune to drug use. No matter how smart your teen is, or athletic they are, they are at risk if they start experimenting. Keep your teen constructively busy, whether it is with sports, music, or other hobbies. It will help keep them less at risk for drug use.
Don’t be in the dark thinking that because your teen is pulling a 4.0 GPA, and on the varsity football team, that they won’t be dragged down by peer pressure. Talk, talk, talk — remind your teen how proud you are of them. Let them know that you are always available if they feel they are being pressured to do or try something they don’t want to.
And if athletics is not your child’s strength, they may feel like a failure. Find what they enjoy and support those types of activities like music, art, or technology. Keep your teen busy in a productive way whether it is with sports, music, or other hobbies. It will help keep them less at risk for drug use.
2. Know the risk factors for addiction.
Do you have a family member struggling with addiction? Sadly one in four families have been affected by addiction. Genetics can be one of the risk factors. Talking often with your teen about how drug dependence can negatively affect their life is critical.
Risk factors can lead to addiction. It is essential as a parent to be aware of these risks factors. If your child fits any of these criteria, do take the time to explain their higher risk factors as directly as possible.
Risk factors include:
- Childhood trauma – A child who has experienced trauma during childhood has a greater risk of turning to drugs alcohol to ease their pain.
- Genetics – A child from a family who has addiction issues within the immediate family or has relatives who have struggled with addiction has a greater risk of addiction.
- Environment – If your child has friends or family members using drugs or engaging in underage drinking, the chances are greater they are indulging as well.
- Early use – If your child starts using drugs or drinking alcohol during their teen years, they have a greater chance of addiction.
- Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar can cause a child to turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their discomfort.
- Impulse control – A young person who takes risks or has problems controlling their impulses has a greater risk for substance use.
3. Access to alcohol or medications
Look around your home. Is liquor easily accessible? Teens admit getting alcohol is easy-and the easiest place to get it is in their home. Know what you have in the house and if you suspect your teen is drinking, lock it up! Talk to them about the risks of drinking, especially if they are of driving age. See #11 below for more information.
Many kids who experiment with prescription medications find them in their parent’s medicine cabinets. Be sure to lock up any medications you are taking or dispense your unused medicines in a takeback container that you can find in many police stations and pharmacies. National Take-Back day was Saturday, October 23rd, but DEA Authorized Collectors to provide year-round drop-off locations to the public to dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals.
4. Have a conversation, not a confrontation.
Communication is the key to prevention. Parents who talk openly and often about the dangers of substance use have a better chance their children will bypass the problem. It helps to be direct and do your homework. Present facts, not scare tactics. Whenever an opportunity arises about the risks, please take it as an opportunity to start a conversation. Instead of asking, “Are you using drugs?”, try “Do you know anyone who uses drugs? How do you feel about that?” Explore the topic of drug use from a comfortable distance.
If you suspect your teen is using drugs or alcohol, talk to them about the issue. Find out why they have chosen to turn to substances. Don’t judge them. Talk to them about the facts around the dangers of substance use. If your teen isn’t opening up to you, be sure you find an adolescent therapist that can help. The more your child can have an opportunity to talk about their feelings in a safe environment, the better. You can check out the Parents 20 Minute Guide for suggestions on positive ways to talk to your child. You can also buy the
5. Prevention starts with parents being the example.
Remember that you are the role model for your teen. If your teen sees you smoking or drinking often, what is the message you are sending? Many parents will have a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverages. However, the teen needs to understand you are an adult. There is a reason that the legal drinking age is 21. Some parents think it is safer if they offer their teens a sip of wine or allow their child to drink at home. Early drinking of any kind can lead to alcoholism and other substance use. The better approach is to set clear expectations. While this can be challenging, please encourage your child not to indulge until 21 and of legal age.
Be respectful of your child and others in any situation. Lower your voice and stay calm even if they raise theirs. Be consistent and follow through with your boundaries and what you are asking your child to do. Control your emotions when things feel challenging.
6. Partnership to End Addiction has information on prevention.
The Partnership to End Addiction offers articles and information about prevention. You can also speak to a counselor on their helpline, and they offer peer coaching as well. They offer tips on preventing substance use and guidance on recovery from addiction. They have information and resources that can be of help. Click on their Get Support button to learn more.
7. Be aware of marijuana use and brain health.
You may think of marijuana use as a rite of passage. The drug affects people differently. The fact is that the potency of marijuana has gone up dramatically. Some teens have had psychotic episodes from their continual use of marijuana. Dabbing is another highly concentrated form of marijuana use that can cause problems.
According to Laura Stack from Johnny’s Ambassadors, “Dabs are marijuana extracts (shatter, wax, budder are some examples). They are made by pouring a solvent such as butane, ethanol, propane, or carbon dioxide over marijuana. This process allows THC to leave the plant material and dissolve into the solvent. This concentrated THC solution is then filtered and placed in a tray. The result of the extraction is sticky oil that typically appears bronze in color. It’s not a plant and is highly potent, containing up to 99% THC. Dabs are typically heated on a hot surface, and the vapors are inhaled through a dab rig or dab pen.”
In my article, How Cannabis Can Hurt the Teenage Brain, more information about how marijuana affects the teen brain and a video, “Today’s Marijuana: What You and Your Teen Need to Know is shared.
Also, have you heard of scromiting? Unfortunately, this is a thing. It’s a new term for a disturbing health trend related to teen marijuana use and the higher levels of THC. Scromiting combines two words: screaming and vomiting.
Also, to understand the effects that marijuana has on the brain, especially the teenage brain. Here is a video that explains the impact in detail.
8. Be aware of drug code words.
Listen or watch on texts or emails for code words for specific drug lingo. Skittling, Tussing, Skittles, Robo-tripping, Red Devils, Velvet, Triple C, C-C-C-, Robotard are some kids’ names for cough and cold medication misuse. Weed, Pot, Ganja, Mary Jane, Grass, Chronic, Buds, Blunt, Hootch, Jive stick, Ace, Spliff, Skunk, Smoke, Dubie, Flower, Zig Zag are all slang for marijuana.
Check out Drug Slang Code Words for more information on slang names for drugs. If your child was drunk, could you tell? What about high? Brush up on signs and symptoms so you can tell the difference. Check out #9 below for more about the paraphernalia and slang terms for drugs.
9. Note drug paraphernalia.
Are thereempty medicine wrappers or bottles, burn marks on their clothes or rug, ashes, stench, etc., in their room, or if they own a car, in their car?Teens (and tweens) either take several pills or smash them, so all of it is released at once. Be sure to check all pockets, garbage cans, cars, closets, under beds, etc., for empty wrappers and other evidence of drug use. Where are your prescription drugs? Have you counted them lately?
Be sure to keep any medications in a safe place out of the medicine cabinet. Incense, eye drops, body spray, and breath mints are common cover-ups. Also, be alert for graphic T-Shirts, doodle-art, and alcohol branded merchandise.
According to the website “Get Smart About Drugs,” “A critical part of understanding teen drug use is awareness about drug paraphernalia—the items kids use to hide or consume drugs. You may find these items in your child’s bedroom, car, or backpack.
- Plastic baggies or small paper bags
- Cigarette packages
- Electronic cigarettes (also called E-cigarettes)
- Small glass vials
- Pill bottles
- Candy or gum wrappers
- Baseball cap/ski cap
- Belt buckle
- Felt tip marker and lipstick dispensers
- Makeup bags
To learn more, check out the Get Smart About Drugs website, a DEA resource for parents, educators & caregivers.
10. Stay tuned in with your child’s friends.
Know your child’s friends. Friends say a lot about your child’s values. One thing to keep in mind is that teen friendship is connected with your child’s psychological well-being. Your child will have fewer symptoms of depression and feel less stressed if they have a circle of friends. Ask your child what they like about their friends and how they feel when they are around them.
It helps to know your chid’s friends. Have the friend over to your house so that you can observe the relationship. It may lead to a better understanding of your child’s interactions.
Also, get to know your friend’s parents. The more you are connected to your child’s friend’s parents, the better. Have open discussions and share any concerns. While it can be challenging if you are uncertain about your child’s friends, continue to tune into your teen’s behavior.Changing peer groups, altering their physical appearance or lack of hygiene, eating or sleeping patterns changing, hostile and uncooperative attitude (defiance), missing money or other valuables from home, sneaking out of the house, etc.
Be on the lookout for what your child and their friends are doing, but stay respectful.
11. Contracts can be a useful option with prevention.
Contracts can help, but only if you are willing to follow through with your rules. They can eliminate confusion, illuminate goals, and accentuate expectations. Have your teen join you in brainstorming rules and boundaries that you can both live by. The more engaged your teen is in the process, the more they will abide by the contract.
Be clear with your expectations and make them reasonable. Keep your contract out in the open where everyone can see it, like on the refrigerator or a kitchen bulletin board. Have similar rules for all your kids depending on their age. Start small, be fair and consistent. Be sure that the punishment is appropriate for the offense. Listen to your teen’s input and be respectful of each other.
And one size doesn’t fit all, so you, as a parent, will be the best one to decide if a contract will work for your family.
One thing that is not negotiable is drinking and driving. Have your teen sign a contract never to drink and drive. Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) provides a free online agreement to download. It may help them pause just the second they need to not get behind that wheel.
12. Check out the NIDA Prevention Principles Brochures.
The brochures give you researched information that you can use to help guide your approach to prevention. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse or NIDA prevention brochure, “These principles have emerged from research studies funded by NIDA on the origins of drug abuse behaviors and the common elements found in research on effective prevention programs. Parents, educators, and community leaders can use these principles to help guide their thinking, planning, selection, and delivery of drug abuse prevention programs at the community level. The references following each principle are representative of current research.
One example is “Family bonding is the bedrock of the relationship between parents and children. Bonding can be strengthened through skills training on parent supportiveness of children, parent-child communication, and parental involvement. (Kosterman et al. 1997).
NIDA-supported research over the past three decades has led to evidence-based early intervention and substance abuse prevention programs that span the prenatal period, infancy and toddlerhood (0 to 3 years), preschool (ages 3 to 6), and the transition to elementary school (ages 6 to 8).
13. Use Positive reinforcement to encourage healthy behavior.
As noted in #4, positive conversations are more helpful when encouraging your child to stay away from drugs or alcohol. Instead of, “You better not drink!” Try “I’m so proud of my sober daughter!” It’s easy on the ears, and it works better.
Embrace your child when you see him. Hug them and make sure your child knows you love them. “Rewarding” your child for not using drugs or alcohol can transform your family and help eliminate frequent arguments. It can help with the fear about what might happen next and move you to a more peaceful existence. Rewarding your child for their healthy behavior, which means that they are not using drugs or alcohol, can have a powerful effect. Both your child and the rest of your family will feel more optimistic.
If you are concerned that your child is experimenting or becoming dependent, positive reinforcement by loving family members may help them change. It will motivate them to make more positive choices. You can create a powerful shift by using this strategy with your child. Let your teen know that it’s okay to talk to you. Be a good listener without judgment.
In conclusion, prevention is doable. It does take vigilance and effort. The more you are aware of your teen activities and positively engage with your child, the better your chances they will stay healthy.
Article Source: cathytaughinbaugh.com