In a world in which many young people turn to drug and alcohol use for comfort or acceptance, people often ask, can parents prevent drug and alcohol abuse? The answer is that parent can have a profound effect on whether or not their children turn to drug and alcohol abuse.
Research has shown time and again that the number one reason that teens don't use drugs and alcohol is because they don't want to disappoint their parents. Parents who have a strong and positive relationship with their children are more likely to influence them to avoid situations that could lead them to drug and alcohol abuse. All parents can have this impact and it is never too early to positively influence your offspring regarding substance use.
It's important to develop strong communication with your children. If they feel they can trust you they will share their feelings and problems with you. The better you know your children, the easier it is to guild them to friendships and activities that are positive and purposeful. One way to do this is by talking with them about their day and listening to what they say. Engage in frequent conversation with them, avoiding questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Ask open ended-questions that elicit detailed responses. And listen carefully to what they say without interrupting them. If they feel that you are going to lecture or judge, communication will likely shut down.
Research shows that peer pressure and bullying can begin as early as fourth grade, which is also the time when alcohol and drug abuse can begin. This is the time to talk to your child about substance use rather than waiting until they are in high school when it has the potential to be out of control.
Being regularly involved in your child's life is the best way a parent can prevent drug and alcohol abuse. Regularly engage in activity that your child enjoys doing. If your child is involved in sports, dance, band or other activities, attend the activities and show them that you are supportive and proud of them.
Children watch adult behavior. What you do is much more important than what you say. If your children see you engage in excessive alcohol or drug use, they are likely to follow your example. Being a positive role model for your children will set the example of the behavior that you expect.
Bad behavior is all around. It's in the movies, on TV, in social media, in school and elsewhere. Celebrities are often undesirable role models and it's important that there be someone stable in their life that can show them positive behavior.
The non-religious Freedom Model Retreats provide a Cognitive Behavioral Learning program has been effectively helping young people with drug and alcohol use problems for more than 20 years. The long term success rate of past guests in achieving and maintaining a gratifying and drug free lifestyle is at least 62%.
If you or a loved one has drug and alcohol use issues, let the non-profit St. Jude program help.