Drug Abuse Prevention

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Establish Guidelines
  3. Monitor Teens
  4. Make Consequences of Drug Use Clear
  5. Have an Open Dialogue With Teens
  6. Are My Kids at Risk for Substance Abuse?
  7. Positive Parenting and Drug Abuse Prevention
  8. Principles of Community Prevention

Doctor talking to patient

Many teens give in to peer pressure because they want to feel accepted and liked by their peers. While this is a natural tendency among many young people, there are preventative measures parents can take to help protect against teen drug abuse.

Drug Abuse Prevention Quiz question 1

Establish Guidelines

Setting expectations is an essential element of drug abuse prevention. As a parent, it's important to speak to your children on regular basis and let them know what you do and do not find to be tolerable behavior. If your children know that it would greatly disappoint you if they even tried drugs, they may be stronger in their ability to avoid peer pressure to use.

Discussing the types of drugs and the associated dangers will also take the mystery out of use and can help prevent your teen from trying a drug he knows little about.

Drug Abuse Prevention Quiz question 2


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Monitor Teens

Some statistics on attitudes and experiences of teens state that:

  • 29% of teenagers report exposure to drugs on school property between grades 9 and 12.
  • 56% of teenagers find it easier to prescription drugs than illegal drugs.
  • 40% of teenagers think that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs.

Credit: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH)

Even the most well-intentioned teen can fall prey to peer pressure, which can feel overwhelming. To monitor your teen, you need to know where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing.

Even when you are not physically present, you can still track their behaviors. It is possible to monitor your teens through:

  • Phone calls.
  • Random trips home earlier than expected.
  • Having neighbors watch for visitors during hours when you are away.
  • Monitoring levels of prescription drugs in your home, if any.
  • Looking for changes in your child's habits and/or friend groups.

Drug Abuse Prevention Quiz question 3

Drug Abuse Prevention Quiz question 4


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Credit: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH)


Make Consequences of Drug Use Clear

It is important for your teenagers to know there are consequences to their actions. If your teen breaks the rules, you need to enforce the guidelines that you have established.

Also make clear the types of common consequences of use and addiction, which can include:

  • Harsh legal penalties for possessing and using drugs.
  • Physical health problems, which can be long-lasting.
  • Mental health issues and even brain damage, depending on the drug and amount of use.
  • Strained relationships.
  • Increased risk of blood borne diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis.
  • Financial instability.
  • Academic issues.

The more your child understands the real risks associated with use, the less likely he is to engage in substance abuse.

Rather than only enforcing punishment for undesirable behaviors, consider rewarding your teen for their willingness to engage in the desired, socially appropriate behaviors like doing well in school, maintaining good relationships, and respecting the household rules. It will be much easier to prevent drug abuse than stopping established use.

Drug Abuse Prevention Quiz question 5

5-Step Challenge to Prevent Drug Abuse

The American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC) is a national movement to raise awareness about the extreme dangers of prescription opioid abuse. AMCC has put forward a 5-step challenge to help families combat painkiller abuse in their home. The AMCC advises you to:

  1. Take inventory of all your prescriptions.
  2. Secure your prescriptions.
  3. Take medicines only according to the prescription.
  4. Make sure to safely dispose of leftover or expired medicines.
  5. Talk to your children about the risks of prescription misuse.


Have an Open Dialogue With Teens

Trust and communication are essential to drug prevention.

It is important to talk openly and honestly with your teens about drug use. They need to be able to talk to you about the pressures they are experiencing and how they should react if they are offered drugs.

Role-playing is a great way to connect with your teens and give them the tools they need to be able to resist peer pressure and drug use. Letting your children know about your personal experiences with abuse may also help them to see the lasting effects that can have on their life.

Your teens will benefit from knowing that they will not be in trouble for being honest with you. Trust and communication are essential to prevention.

Drug Abuse Prevention Quiz question 6


Are My Kids at Risk for Substance Abuse?

All people are at risk for substance abuse. The ability to recognize this fact will allow you to be better able to understand and reduce the risks.

Teens commonly use substances to:

  • Feel more comfortable in social situations.
  • Reduce stressful feelings.
  • Escape reality.
  • Conform to social situations and pressures.

Consider these 2014 statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • 66% of high school seniors have abused alcohol.
  • 49% of 12th graders have used an illicit drug in their lifetime.
  • More than 44% of 12th graders have used marijuana in their lifetime.
  • Nearly 20% of high school seniors have used a prescription drug at some point.

Positive Parenting and Drug Abuse Prevention

The National Institute on Drug Abuse website features five questions, developed at the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon, that all families should ask themselves with regard to positive parenting and the prevention of drug abuse.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself

parent talking to child

  • Am I able to communicate in a healthy way with my child about relationship issues?
  • Do I reinforce positive behaviors?
  • Do you have the skills to resolve conflict with your teen in a productive manner?
  • Can you set limits for your teen in a calm manner and manage behavior problems when they occur?
  • Do you consistently supervise your teen's behavior?

Lacking skills in one or more of these areas could indicate some fundamental family problems and might elucidate a greater potential for adolescent and teen drug abuse problems.


Principles of Community Prevention

Preventive measures to stop the threat of abuse do not have to be saddled entirely by parents. In concert with parental efforts, teachers and educators, as well as community figures, can play a huge role in making entire communities safer for our developing youth.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines a 16-step process to improve the efficacy of programs in the community. Some of the recommendations include the following:

  • Programs should address all types of substance abuse including illicit and legal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
  • Since there can be variability of abuse specific to each location, programs should target that area's particular concerns.
  • Programs are improved by strengthening the relationships within the family. Strong families are related to decreased chance of substance use.
  • Programs that work to address potential issues as soon as early childhood can identify and treat risk factors like aggression, social relationships and school performance.
  • The best methods of treatment and prevention are long-term and consistent. These will take place over several months or years, rather than days.

If you are concerned that your child, teen or adolescent might be struggling with a substance abuse issue, don't hesitate to call 1-888-744-0069Who Answers? for more information about your family's treatment options.


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