With National Prevention Week on the way, we want to take a moment to share realistic ways you can aid in preventing substance abuse in youth. Use any of these tips to make an impact:
Share Expectations and Norms Concerning Substance Abuse
Sit down with the adolescent, and share what is expected from them when they attend parties, when they are without supervision and how their actions will have consequences. Don’t be afraid to be forward with them about what is right and wrong. Contrasting these expectations to what the norms are in culture and the situations they will encounter will help them remember your expectations when one of the situations arise.
Help Youth Succeed Academically
Youth that find themselves succeeding in school and focused on their grades/projects/homework often don’t have time or a desire to take part in substance abuse. Helping them in their studies will also create a better bond, enabling your teen to understand he/she has an adult they can count on and go to for help of any kind.
Get Them Involved
Extracurricular activities are another great way to help prevent substance abuse in youth. These structured events, whether school clubs/organizations, sports, or other activities, will allow the teen to find a consistent routine and something to work toward. When there are other students in his/her club, on the team, or working with your child, they will often develop similar patterns, plans and habits. Getting them involved in a great organization that uplifts the child and helps them focus on positive characteristics will help prevent substance abuse.
Let Them Know You’ll Help
If you know your teen has plans to attend a party, talk to them about the night, about the fact that substance abuse will most likely occur, and that you will be ready to get them out of that situation whenever they come across that scenario or are uncomfortable. Children often feel as though they cannot tell their parents about events with drugs and alcohol present; but if you provide a comfortable, open atmosphere to allow your son/daughter to talk about these situations, your teen will be less likely to hide it from you, and more ready to go to you for help.
Most important, remember that you can make an impact in youth, so take action in any of these ways and help reduce and prevent substance abuse in our youth.