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How to Help Prevent Teen Substance Abuse, Part 1

How can we prevent our children from being sidetracked by substance abuse?

Our children are the future.

We start out with our precious children, innocent and ready to explore the world. As a parent, our role is to be our child’s protector against harm. 

As everyone knows, the teen years can be challenging. No parent wants drugs or alcohol to detour their child’s life and prevent them from reaching their goals. Life can turn upside down for your family at a moment’s notice with substance abuse, which can lead to addiction.

I hate to admit it, but when I started on this journey I thought I was protecting my children. I realized too late that I could have done more.  

We try to do the best we can at the time, but sometimes we realize later that it was not enough. It is PREVENTION that will really stop the disease of addiction in it’s tracks. We are gambling with our children’s lives when we don’t become proactive at the very first moment we suspect substance abuse. Our children should have every opportunity to get through their teenage years in tact and be equipped to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

That is why it is so important to understand that teen alcohol and drug experimentation of any kind can lead to addiction. Not everyone who tries cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana ends up addicted to hard core drugs, but everyone who becomes an addict starts somewhere and most likely it was with one or more of those three substances.

Here are a few tips to help prevent teen substance abuse.

1. The key to prevention is communication. Start a conversation about the risks of drinking and driving or the dangers of using drugs, at about the age of 10 or 11. Continue the conversation whenever an opportunity arises throughout the teen years.

2. Have a conversation not a confrontation. If you suspect your teen is using drugs, talk to them. Don’t judge them, talk to them about the facts of the dangers of substance abuse. If your teen isn’t opening up to you, be sure you find an adolescent therapist or substance abuse counselor that can help.

3. Do you have an addict in your family? Sadly many families have been effected by someone that has allowed drugs or alcohol to take over their lives.  With this, it is a reminder to your teen that you want them to have bright future filled with happiness. Family genetics is one of the risk factors that can lead to addiction.

4. Don’t be a parent in denial. There is no teenager that is immune to drug abuse. No matter how smart your teen is, or athletic they are, they are at risk if they start using. Keeping  your teen in positive activities, whether it is with sports, music or other hobbies, you will be less at risk for them to want to experiment. Don’t assume that if your teen is pulling a 4.0 GPA and on the varsity football that they couldn’t be dragged down by peer pressure. Remind your teen how proud you are of them, and let them know that you are always available if they feel they are being pressured to do or try something they don’t want to.

What tips do you have to prevent teen substance abuse?  

_______________________________

Cathy Taughinbaugh is one of three Bay Area moms writing Parent to Parent ~ a blog sharing concerns about substance abuse. Lisa Frederiksen, Author Speaker Consultant and Founder of BreakingTheCycles.com and Shelley Richanbach, Certified Addictions Specialist, Peer Facilitator and Founder of Next Steps for Women, round out the Parent to Parent team. Check back every Wednesday as one of these moms will share their expertise and personal experiences with substance use, abuse, addiction and recovery. And if you find yourself in any one of their stories, consider attending their March 3, 2013, Substance Abuse Workshop for Parents.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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