Tips for Preventing Substance Abuse among Teens

With the growing problem of substance abuse among adolescents, it’s important for parents to be equipped with the necessary tools to communicate with their children about the dangers of abusing alcohol and other substances.

Here are some tips for parents from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for preventing substance abuse among teens:

Provide a clear message. There should be no confusing language when discussing drug or alcohol use. Make sure your child knows the dangers of substance abuse, especially since his or her brain is still developing and can be damaged by alcohol and drug use.

Report underage drinking. Adults should always report underage drinking to the proper authorities, sending a clear message to youths.

Stay connected. Youths who have an open, honest relationship with their parents are far less likely to participate in underage drinking and substance abuse than those who don’t openly communicate with their parents or caretakers.

Maintain a zero-tolerance policy. Set and enforce expectations, such as not allowing any alcohol in the home and not allowing your child to attend parties where there might be alcohol. Always know who your child’s friends are, and communicate with his or her friends’ parents, making sure they know about your zero-tolerance policy.

Be aware of things that could place your teen at higher risk. Teens who have a family history of substance abuse, are depressed, are going through a transition such as moving or experiencing parental divorce, and have friends who abuse substances are at a much higher risk of developing a chemical dependency and are more susceptible to the consequences of substance abuse, such as health problems, unprotected sex, and driving while under the influence.

It’s extremely important to talk to your children and teens about substance abuse—one conversation could save a life.