Is Substance Abuse Preventable?
For some, the proclivity to abusing illicit drugs and addictive substances is ingrained in their DNA. It’s in their genes: families with a history of substance abuse tend to be at higher risk for use. That being said, a teen’s decision to experiment — to take that first sip or first puff at a party – is their own to make.
As a loved one, you play a sizeable role in their decision. Your role is likely larger than you think. Studies show that teenagers who know that their parents disapprove of substance abuse were less likely than their peers to use at all. How much you teach them about the dangers of substances, along with how you react if you catch them using, can help prevent their experimentation from ever growing out of control.
“Parents need to initiate age-appropriate conversations about these issues with their children at all stages of their development in order to help ensure that their children make the right decisions,” says Pamela Hyde, agency administrator at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“Early on, it may be very basic information,” says Robert Lindsey, President and CEO of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. “As kids get older, we need to talk about the impact on health, academics, relationships, driving, and the dangers of alcohol and prescription drugs.”
Schools may offer prevention courses, but the real key to prevention is at home. It’s where lessons are instilled and reinforced as teens get older. This is where teens are equipped to face the temptations of the world. Parents who remain active in their child’s life and patient during their trials and tribulations are absolutely invaluable.
How Can I Help My Teen?
Educating teens about drugs and alcohol is paramount. Nearly 10% of parents say they don’t speak to their children about the health risks of substance use. Even while teens are living in your household and under your supervision, your reach extends beyond that. Studies show that parents can help prevent addiction or abuse in a variety of ways; some less obvious than others.
Ways you can help include:
- Setting alcohol-specific rules lowers the likelihood of drinking initiation.
- High levels of parental monitoring are associated with less drinking and drug use.
- Parents are equally effective with children of all ages, despite the common belief that they have less control the older teens get.
- When parents are more involved, peers are not as influential.
- Adolescents imitate the consumption of their parents (especially the father).
You’re a role model to your teen in many ways — more than you probably think. Showing you care at every opportunity can be huge. Pass your wisdom down to them constantly. Be a good influence especially by carrying yourself in a manner you’d want to be emulated. Set rules — and stick to them — when it comes to drugs or alcohol. Even if this means punishing them, know that it beats the alternative. Your teen’s life matters, especially in the crosshairs of a crippling substance abuse problem. They’ll thank you in the long run.
How Can I Help Prevent A Relapse?
A drug or alcohol addiction is powerful and its effects on the brain cannot be overstated. Because of this, the risk of falling back into the habits and comforts of addiction is high. Even treatment and rehab can only do so much if a pattern of substance abuse redevelops.
There are a few ways that you can help your teen:
- Encourage them to stick with their treatment plan
- Make sure they avoid high-risk situations and social groups
- Reach out for help at the very first sign of relapse.
Does Your Child Need Treatment?
Even if you’ve done all you can to prevent your child from drinking or doing drugs, they may still decide to engage in this behavior. If you notice signs of substance abuse crop up, address the problem right away with a professional, such as your teen’s guidance counselor or our addiction experts at TeenRehabCenter.org. We can offer you free guidance, wherever you are in your journey towards health for your child.
If you learn your teen has a substance problem, you can still help prevent the disease from escalating and doing more harm. Reach out for support and prepare to tackle the problem through counseling, detox or some form of rehab. We can help you find the right treatment professionals to help your child get back to health and answer any of your questions about rehab. It doesn’t cost anything to call, and everything we discuss with you is kept in strict confidence. Don’t wait for the problem to worsen — take action now. Let us help you figure out where to begin.
- Mientka, Matthew. “Parents Influence Teenagers’ Drug And Alcohol Use More Than They Think.” Medical Daily. IBT Media Inc., 26 May 2013. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
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