Protective factors have been outlined by experts which are designed to teach parents how to promote positive behaviors, encourage good mental health and prevent underage use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.
Here are 10 effective ways to reduce or prevent teen drug and alcohol abuse;
- Model the behavior. A parent who is a positive role model will walk the talk and not expect teens to stop drinking or to stay away from drugs if a parent does not. By modeling positive behavior at home, a child is more likely to follow suit.
- Seek help for family issues. Counseling and psychotherapy go a long way towards preventing substance abuse. Violence, divorce, drug abuse or illness can have a negative impact on the family. Seek help to ensure the family unit and, ultimately, the teenager feel mentally and physically able to resist the desire and temptation to use drugs or alcohol.
- Be present. Know what friends a teen is hanging out with, what is happening and where the teen is going. Encourage independence but set appropriate limits such as curfews and check-in times while letting the teen know it is for the benefit and safety of that teen and the whole family. Keep the teen accountable but provide consequences for stretching the limits.
- Educate. Statistics are not enough, the science behind it is just as important to understanding including brain research on the effect of substances. NIDA for Teens or The Science of Addiction are good resources to share.
- Know the law. Sit down with the teen and discuss the legal ramifications of not following the law or getting caught. Make sure the teen understands both the short and long term consequences of using drugs or alcohol.
- Create a contract. A family drinking and drug use contract sets expectations and clear rules about alcohol consumption for teens and parents. Samples can be found online or through various resources for prevention of teen drug and alcohol abuse.
- Know the signs. A teen will give warning signs of a drinking or drug problem. Risk factors can increase the chances including depression, family history of addiction or difficult social transitions. Develop a plan for what to do in the event this happens.
- Find positive outlets. Encourage participation in sports, volunteering, social or church groups to avoid boredom which can lead to thrill seeking behaviors such as doing drugs or drinking.
- Mentorship support. Encourage the teen to seek and find positive mentors outside the family. This will help reinforce positive family beliefs including through religious or spiritual groups, sports teams or school activities. Check in with the mentor to see how the teen is doing.
- Spend time together. Regularly take time to spend with a teen and provide undivided attention. Go for walks, bowl, play tennis, go for bike rides, dinner or cook together as a means of connecting, sharing and showing interest in the teen’s life.
If you suspect a teenager in your home is struggling with addiction, there is help available. Hired Power has resources for teens and families on substance abuse and addiction.
Call us at 800-910-9299 for more information on how we can assist you.