Protecting Children From Substance Abuse
Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use is an increasingly common problem among young people. In 2015 alone, approximately 2 million youth aged 12 to 17 reported using illegal drugs. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why you may keep yourself up at night worrying about how to make sure your kids don’t do drugs. Even if you’re close with your children, it’s impossible to be with them at every moment.
Protecting your children from drugs is no small task. This is why having the right education and resources is essential for successful prevention strategies. But we don’t expect you to be an expert on drug and alcohol safety. We are here to take some of the burdens off your shoulders. Also, to help and guide you toward the prevention programs that are right for you and your child. Call us today at 623-263-7371 to speak to a representative about drug prevention for kids.
Substance abuse is a growing problem among children. As a parent, you have the most significant influence on your child’s decisions to experiment with drugs or alcohol. A strong relationship and open communication with your children are vital during their adolescence.
Communication is Key
If you’re not sure where to start, remember that open communication is the key to solving any problem. This is including keeping kids off drugs. You may want to shield your children from the difficult truth of substance abuse. However, avoiding the topic entirely may not have the effect you anticipate. When you avoid talking about alcohol and other drugs, it sends your kids the message that this is a taboo topic. This may lead them to avoid bringing it up. Even if it becomes an issue for them.
As you’re well aware, kids don’t always have all the facts. If they do not hear it from you, then they may be getting false or harmful information elsewhere. Furthermore, if you avoid talking about the risks of substance abuse, your kids might not understand the harm in trying alcohol or drugs. Even though it may be hard, having a conversation will allow you to convey your feelings. Also, it allows you to establish rules and expectations surrounding substance use.
You should not only tell your children that you do not want them to drink or use drugs, but why. Children are bound to test the boundaries of any rules you set. So it is important that they understand the consequences of their actions and why substance abuse is risky.
Here are some examples of things to say when explaining how you feel and setting rules:
- “I know you may be tempted to try drugs, but I also know you’re really smart. That’s why I expect you to avoid drugs—no matter what your friends do. Agreed?”
- “It worries me to know how easily you could damage your brain or develop an addiction. Will you promise me you won’t try things just because the people you hang out with try them?”
Make a Connection
It is always a good idea to talk to your children before they are exposed to drugs and alcohol. When they hear the facts from you first, it can influence their attitude and behavior toward these substances later. This can and should be a continued conversation, not just a one-time situation. You can return to the topic as your child grows and new questions come up. When you show them through continued support and communication that you will be there for them when they need you, they will be more likely to talk to you about their concerns.
It is crucial to not only talk about drugs and alcohol. However, also to develop a strong bond with your children at an early age even before substance abuse comes up in conversation. When you foster trust between you and your children, they are more likely to come to you when they have a problem. Adolescents who have a good bond with their parents have been shown to be less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
Just remember that while a close relationship is important, you must still be a parent to your child, not a pal. You can be the person they come to with their problems. But you still need to provide them with rules, structure, and discipline. You should learn to safely supervise your children in a way that respects their boundaries. But while also allowing you to stay involved and recognize any developing problems.
Promote Good Life Skills
The best form of communication is encouragement. It is essential to approach the subject of substance abuse in a way that is informative and expresses your concern. You want your child to be cautious and understand the danger, but you don’t want to shame them. In the event that they do encounter substance use in the future, you want to ensure they will not be ashamed to speak to you about it.
You should also work with your child to develop other important skills so that they can continue to make good decisions when you’re not around. Skills that can aid in the prevention of substance abuse and overall well-being include:
- Confidence and strong sense of self
- Conflict resolution and problem-solving
- How to set safe boundaries
Besides creating a nurturing and productive environment, it is also important to keep your child’s brain healthy as they continue to grow into young adulthood. This will promote the development of the skills above. When drugs or alcohol are introduced to the brain while it is still developing, it can result in serious, long-lasting changes that hinder decision making and self-control.
Recognize Risk Factors
You do not have to wait until adolescence to start thinking about how to make sure your kids don’t do drugs. Many early influences can help you identify what will make children more or less vulnerable to substance abuse as they grow. These influences can be divided into “risk” or “protective” factors. According to the research regarding substance abuse, “factors associated with greater potential for drug abuse are called ‘risk’ factors, while those associated with reduced potential for abuse are called ‘protective’ factors.”
You should learn to look out for risk factors and work to eliminate them early on. Different risk factors will affect each child differently. It depends on the child’s personality, phase of development, and environment. However, risk factors can pose challenges at any age.
One example of an early risk in very young children could be out-of-control aggressive behavior. Behaviors like this, if unaddressed, can lead to additional risks in later stages of the child’s development. Once a child with aggressive behavior enters school, for instance, they can experience rejection from peers. Also, punishment from teachers and academic failure. These are all further common risk factors that lead to substance abuse. In brief, a child experiencing rejection in school may start skipping school and associating with peers who use drugs.
This example illustrates how early risk factors that are not obviously related to drug use in the initial phases of development can lead to drug use later on. Intervention during a child’s early development can reduce risks long before they lead to problems.
Find the Balance
If you delay intervention until adolescence, it will be more difficult to overcome risks. Children’s attitudes and behaviors are already well established and difficult to change once they have reached adolescence. Risk factors can be addictive. This means that the more of them a child is exposed to, the more likely the child will abuse drugs.
Some risk factors may only influence drug abuse under certain conditions. To illustrate, a child with a family history of substance abuse is at higher risk for drug abuse. But if they grow up in an environment without drug-abusing peers and with strong anti-drug norms; then they are less likely to develop substance abuse issues themselves. Having many protective factors present in their lives can also lessen the impact of some risk factors. For example, even if the child does have drug-abusing peers, having strong parental support and involvement can reduce the effect of that risk factor. Balance is thus an important goal of prevention.
The Benefits of Prevention Programs
Learning to identify all the different factors involved in potential substance abuse can be daunting. Fortunately, there are prevention programs that can provide you with in-depth education on risk and protective factors so you can understand how they affect your child. Once you arm yourself with adequate knowledge, these programs can also teach you how to approach the subject of substance abuse and foster effective communication.
Drug prevention programs have shown the promising effects of a family-based intervention. The most effective interventions in reducing substance abuse among children emphasized the development of social skills and a sense of personal responsibility. Additionally, whether intervention specifically targets parents or involves collaboration between school and home, prevention that includes active parental involvement is more effective. Seeking the assistance of a prevention program that allows you to maximize your involvement will ultimately lead to the best outcome for your child.
Start Prevention Now
Understanding how to make sure your kids don’t do drugs is, like parenting itself, a long-lasting and complex process. It begins with a healthy home environment and extends into many aspects of your child’s life. You can certainly take steps to foster trust and communication between you and your child to prevent substance abuse. However, you can also utilize the guidance of prevention programs. If you’re worried about how to protect your child from drugs, then call us today for more information on prevention programs in your area. We can help you prevent substance abuse and maintain the safety and happiness you work hard to provide them.
Finding Your New Path To A Better Life, Is Just A Call Away.
Your road to addiction treatment recovery starts Here. 24/7 Treatment Monitoring.