How to Teach Your Teen About Drugs and Alcohol
Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol are easily accessible for teenagers. Therefore, it is critical to teach your teen about drugs and alcohol directly. While it may be uncomfortable, it is necessary.
Don’t Make False Assumptions
First, do not assume your teen will not abuse drugs or alcohol. No matter what your personal home life or background is like, there is a real possibility that your teen will be exposed to drugs or alcohol at some point. For instance, while drugs are illegal, alcohol is legal for those over 21 years old. According to Recovery Village, “Not surprisingly, it causes the most harm — teen alcohol abuse is responsible each year for nearly 200,000 ER visits and 4,300 deaths among kids under 21.”
Furthermore, statistics show that most teens have either used, been offered, or know someone who sells drugs. Do not assume that just because your teen is not a troublemaker that he/she will not have the chance to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Talk About Drugs and Alcohol Openly
Begin talking about the negative consequences of drugs and alcohol at an early age. Have age-appropriate discussions about what happens when people abuse drugs and alcohol. Additionally, when your teens ask you questions about drugs and alcohol, it is best to answer them honestly.
As your child hits the teenage years, be open about how drugs and alcohol are abused and the possible results. Today’s parents must also address prescription drug abuse with their teens and explain how even though a doctor prescribes these medications, they can be misused and cause great harm.
We all learn best through examples, so use models when you try to teach your teen. Point out examples from television shows and movies where people abuse alcohol and discuss what could happen in real life. Additionally, personal stories are valuable lessons. If you know someone who has suffered the consequences of drug or alcohol abuse, talk to your teen about the experience.
Role Play Various Situations
Peer pressure is still prevalent, and it remains one of the most common reasons teens begin to abuse drugs and alcohol. Even if your teen seems resistant, talk to him/her about how to handle various situations. Try role-playing scenarios that teach teens how to say no, as well as what to do when they are in a dangerous situation and need help.
There are plenty of resources you can use for teaching your teens specific information relating to drugs and alcohol. The school counselor can help you with age-appropriate materials. Additionally, there are online resources, videos, and books that are designed to educate teens. For instance, WebMD has an entire online directory of resources.
Have a Safe Ride Policy
While you need to have clear rules and consequences regarding drugs and alcohol, you should also have a safe ride policy with your teen. Make sure your teen knows they can call you or someone else you trust for a ride if they ever need one – no questions asked.
With drugs and alcohol being abused by large numbers of teenagers, it is wise to have a plan for talking with your teen. Do not think this is a one-time conversation. This discussion needs to be an ongoing conversation, and a constant reminder, through their teenage years.