Seven Ways to Protect Your Teen from Alcohol and Other DrugsFrom the Bureau of Substance Abuse Service, Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health
Copies of this as a booklet (#SA1011) can be ordered by calling 1-800-952-6637
#1 Be a Role Model. Fact: Children imitate adults.
Actions: How to be a role model:
- If you drink, do so in moderation.
- Never drive after drinking.
- Do not use illegal drugs.
- Be conscious of your use of prescription drugs.
- Dispose properly of unused prescription drugs, mixed with coffee grinds or kitty litter in a zip-lock baggie into the garbage, not down the toilet. Or to a Rx drop box in your community, most likely at a police station.
- Use household products in a ventilated area, according to directions.
#2 Be Clear About Your Expectations.
Fact: The most common reason young people give for not using alcohol and drugs is not wanting to harm their relationship with the adults in their lives.
Actions: Say: It is not okay for you to drink, use inhalants or do drugs because….
- It is against the law.
- You’re still growing and your brain is still developing. Alcohol and other substances can cause brain damage that may be permanent.
- If you start when you are young, you are much more likely to become addicted and that will get in the way of your dreams.
- Inhalants are extremely dangerous and can cause permanent brain damage or death, even the first time they are used.
Actions: When your kids get older, be more explicit about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs:
- Drinking affects your decision-making. You are more likely to make a bad decision and end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is not necessarily a matter of luck.
- Kids who drink are more likely to drive drunk, or get in a car where the driver is drunk.
- Kids who drink are more likely to try other drugs.
- Using Ecstasy can permanently alter your b rain.
- Heroin is highly addictive.
#3 Set Limits and Follow Through.
Fact: Parents’ permissiveness is a bigger factor in teenage drug use than peer pressure.
Actions: Establish rules.
- Discuss rules in advance.
- Follow through with consequences. Uphold limits set in school or in the community. For example, if your child is suspended for violating a rule, investigate, and help him learn from the consequences.
- Allow your teen to build trust. Reward good behavior. Tighten the reins when rules are broken.
#4 Be Involved In Your Kid’s Life. Fact: Teens are much less likely to use drugs when parents are involved in their lives.
Actions: Ways to stay involved:
- Listen with empathy. Don’t judge.
- Initiate conversation with an observation like, “you seem sad,” or “you seem stressed.”
- Have dinner together at least four times a week.
- Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents.
- When your kids are going to someone’s house, check to see if an adult will be home.
- Encourage them to call you if they ever feel at risk.
#5 Help Your Teen Become Well-Rounded. Fact: Teens who participate in community service and extracurricular activities are less likely to be involved in drugs and alcohol.
Actions: Encourage your child to spend several hours a week on a combination of
- Community Service AND
- Art, music, drama AND
- Clubs, etc.
#6 Encourage Your Teen to Try Hard in School. Fact: Teens who perform well in school are less likely to become involved with alcohol and drugs.
- Limit screen time.
- Encourage effort over grades.
- Praise every improvement.
- If a child thinks or says, “School is boring,” consider ways to fix that. Talk with his or her teachers.
- Find ways to help your child do something in school well, even if they don’t get A’s.
#7 Reach Out. Fact: Teens with supportive adults in their lives as less likely to use alcohol and other drugs.
Action: Seek and give ongoing support.
- Spend time with close family members.
- Join activities in your community.
- Talk to parents in similar situations.
- Stay connected with neighbors and friends.
People who can help guide your child or help you find community resources:
- Pediatrician or health care provider
- Guidance counselor
- Social Worker
- Religious Leader
CHECKLIST: Does your teen….._ Have strong family support?
_ Understand the limits you have set?
_ Have high expectations for his or her future?
_ Have a safe environment at home and school?
_ Participate in a supportive, caring community?
_ Pursue extracurricular activities like sports, art, music, theater, or clubs?
_ Learn about values through regular volunteer work, being in a community group and/or religious programs?
_ Have dinner with you and your family at least four times a week?
_ Hang out with friends who act responsibly?
_ Feel he or she can come to you with a serious problems?
Every item on the list contributes to your teen’s healthy future and reduces chances or drug and alcohol abuse.