Give Your Teen Tools to Resist Drug and Alcohol Use

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Bio banner for RN blogger, Kelli Anderson In my post, Talking with Teens about Drugs and Alcohol, I provided parents with some tips to help get the conversation started with their teen. This post goes into detail about what strategies parents can impart to their teens to help them cope with peer pressure.

Give instructions to call you.

Tell your teenager that no matter the situation, they can call you to pick them up. Let them know if they or their friends have been drinking, it is not safe to drive. Remind them frequently that you would rather see them drunk than injured or dead. In some communities there is even a safe driving program or services that will give teens a safe ride home, no questions asked. Research and find out if there are any in your area.

Discuss refusal techniques.

Find a few excuses to give your child they can use for not participating. A good example would be, "My parents conduct random drug tests." Teach your teenagers it's OK to go against what everyone is doing. Tell them people who push them to do things they do not really want to do don't really "have their back." Encourage them to do what is best for them and they will feel better for it in the end. Even though they might not believe you now, let them know that someday they will be respected for their strength.

Monkey see, monkey do.

Be careful of sending mixed messages. It is very confusing for teenagers if their parents are drinking or doing drugs but telling their children that this behavior is wrong or dangerous for them. Be careful when coming home from a bad day of work and saying, "I need a drink." This behavior demonstrates to your child that drinking is a way to relieve stress and relax.  Set an example: use alcohol moderately and never drink and drive. Be careful when sharing stories about yourself drinking as a teen that portray drinking as fun and "the thing to do."

Know your teen's friends.

Encourage qualities in friends that have meaning and are valuable, such as trustworthiness and kindness. Have your teen's friends visit your home so you can get to know them. Encourage activities that are fun and challenging. Boredom can lead to alcohol and drug experimentation.

Some more tips:

  • Do not supply teens with drugs or alcohol.
  • Do not let your house be the "party house."
  • Have an open mind to help have open conversations.
  • Set a good example for your children—parents who drink heavily usually have teens who also drink heavily.

Recognize the signs of drug and alcohol use.

Pay attention to how your teen appears physically before and after going out with friends. The following signs in your teen should act as a red flag.

  • Changes in appearance
  • Red or flushed cheeks
  • Changes in attitude
  • Clenching teeth more often
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Using lots of gum or mints to hide smell
  • Asking for money
  • Avoidance of family members
  • Poor communication and short temper

For additional information, I encourage you to check out the following websites: