There are many stresses that come with raising teenagers, but one of the biggest is worrying about drug and alcohol abuse. There are many outside influences enticing teenagers to get involved with alcohol and drugs, and it’s often hard for teens to understand the ramifications of such decisions. As a parent, it’s important to be an inside influence helping them to avoid these dangers.
There are preventative steps you can take to keep your children safe and healthy, such as the following:
- Communicate. Talking openly with your teens about what they are and are not doing is essential. It will ease your mind to be in the loop, and it will allow them to feel more comfortable approaching you about these topics in the future. Even if you don’t think your teens are involved with drugs or alcohol, the conversation is still worth having. Never assume.
- Set boundaries. Making your expectations known early is important when setting boundaries with your teens. It helps let them know that you’re serious and makes them readily aware of the consequences. Making rules is difficult once they’ve already been broken, and coming up with punishments after the fact can be challenging. It’s important to keep a positive and stable relationship during the rule-making process, so your teens know they can always turn to you.According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, research proves that having a close, supportive relationship with parents results in teens being more likely to delay drinking. Conversely, “When the relationship between a parent and teen is full of conflict or is very distant, the teen is more likely to use alcohol and to develop drinking-related problems.”
- Lead by example. As a parent, you’re constantly teaching your teens, even if you don’t realize it. If you’re heavily dependent on alcohol or if it’s a big factor in your social life, you could be setting a detrimental example. Research proves that children with parents who binge drink are two times as likely to binge drink themselves. Not only that, but teens are more likely to become addicts if they’ve had a parent or grandparent who suffered from addiction. If your teens are witnessing the seemingly positive effects that alcohol is having in your life, they might be curious if it will do the same in theirs. Additionally, if their parents have no problem abusing this drug, why should they feel compelled to treat it any differently?
- Be available. As you’re talking to your teens and setting boundaries with them about drugs and alcohol, it’s vital they know you’re there for them if they need help. Telling them not to drink and enforcing rules upon them if they do means nothing if they can’t call you when they’re in trouble.Let your teen know that if they do make a mistake and get involved with drugs or alcohol, that you will be there to help them. Letting your teens know you’re only a phone call away may prevent them from driving drunk or being a passenger in a car where the driver has been drinking.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and one fourth of those include an underage driver who has been drinking. Additionally, teenagers who begin drinking at a young age are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash.
Learning how to handle the topic of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as prevent it, is extremely difficult when it comes to your teenagers. It’s important that you know all the facts. Talk to your teens, set boundaries, lead by example, and make sure they know they can count on you — at any moment, at any hour in the night.
Teen with drugs photo available from Shutterstock