Prevention is the Key to Teen Substance Abuse

How we can prevent teen substance abuse.

by Cathy Taughinbaugh, Parent Recovery and Life Coach, Founder of TreatmentTalk.org 

So often we get blindsided by the substance abuse of our teens. It just seems to appear out of nowhere and we are shocked, scared and angry when we discover our children have been smoking pot, drinking beer, taking prescription drugs or street drugs. 

Prevention is the key, but what can parents do to prevent their child from being tempted to join in? There is so much peer pressure for all teens. It truly is challenging for parents to keep on top of it all. 

I would like to share my interview with Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who has been in recovery for over 26 years. 

I asked him to share his three top suggestions for parents to help prevent teen substance abuse.

Here are his answers.

1. The first would be the power of sitting down at the dinner table with your family. Knowing what your kids are doing and having daily communication with them is one of the best prevention tools that we have.

2. Kids are really good. They appreciate honesty and they listen to good information. They may chose to reject you for whatever reason in their adolescence at any given time. If you tell the truth, give them good information, including their genetic legacy, they will pay attention, and it will have an effect.

3. The other thing is that you set very clear boundaries  and you don’t pretend that this is something that they are going to get through.

“Everybody does it in adolescence.” are the kind of excuses parents make so they don’t have to deal with it.

You really do need to nip it in the bud, especially if you have a genetic history. If there is any indication that this behavior is going on at a teen level, you bring it out in the open, you address it and you set serious boundaries around it. You set consequences. Those consequences can start with treatment.

Did you read the most recent article in Diablo Magazine, The New Face of Addiction? It is about prescription pill abuse and how it is affecting our teens. As a reminder, this has become an epidemic, and this is happening in communities just like yours. Be sure to do your part, such as locking up your prescriptions, and disposing of them properly. When medicines are mixed with other medicines or alcohol, they can be lethal. 

Bring this topic up on a regular basis with your children. A good time would be when you are sitting around the dinner table. As parents, you want to be on the front end of this issue, not scrambling to try and get help, because your child’s habit has gotten out of control.

Be open, aware and proactive about substance abuse. It will help your teen make healthy choices.


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. 

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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