Parents everywhere are worried about teen substance use, but there are proven ways to help your child make healthy choices and stay on track throughout their childhood and teenage years. You may feel helpless about the behaviors and substances your kids are exposed to at school. You’re not alone.

When it comes to teen substance use, delaying experimentation is the best prevention. But, how can you influence your kids to delay experimenting with substances when they have so many other influences?

Parents Have The Best Leverage For Preventing Teen Substance Use

Kids love their parents. They want their parents approval and want to please them. Parents who are involve with their children, know their needs and challenges can be the most helpful in guiding them through the rough passages of teen years.

These 10 Tips Work For Teen Substance Use Prevention

Try them all and see how powerful they are.

1. Listen And Talk To Your Kids

Children need to be heard by their family members. Make sure that you check in with them throughout the day and hear them out – not while you’re doing 5 other tasks – but when you can actually listen. And while those 5 other tasks are important, they usually aren’t more important than this. Hear what their day has been like; listen to their joys, fears and sorrows; and listen to anything that might be related to substance use. Learn about their friends.

Talking with your kids means to talk about everything – including drugs and alcohol. You have wisdom to share (even though they may not think so) and they need to hear this wisdom. Relate to them how hard it must be to have drugs and alcohol presented to them and the choices they must make.

2. Mentor Healthy Behavior

If you smoke cigarettes, drink irresponsibly, use illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs, then these first two steps will be mostly meaningless. Children do not respond to “do as I say, not as I do.” Model healthy behavior for them by being healthy yourself.

3. Do Family Things Together

The family that does healthy activities together mentors healthy behavior, but also, the child sees there are so many things one can do in life that are pleasurable without using. Eat meals together; go on a family trip, even for a day; jog together; visit family friends; have their friends participate with the family; participate in religious/spiritual events; watch funny movies.

4. Be Involved In Their Schools

Know their teachers, their classes, their peers, and especially, their friends. Go to school-related events; be on the PTA or do other volunteer work there; participate in anti-drug school events.

5. Encourage Participation In Extra-Curricular Activities

Studies show that kids who participate in extra-curricular activities such as sports, choir, band, chess club, a gay-straight alliance, or do volunteer work, do better in school and set the stage for their future lives.

6. Educate Yourself And Them About Substance Use And Consequences

In today’s world of reliance on substances, you need to be educated about drugs and alcohol including the signs and symptoms of use, consequences, positive parenting behaviors, and treatment options (if needed). Your children also need to be educated – make it a family affair and learn together.

7. Discuss Social Media’s Glamorization

No matter where they are, children and teens are bombarded about the wonders of substances. Limit their time on social media and monitor what they are watching or games they are playing while discussing why this is being done and how the media glorifies using.

8. Set Boundaries, Expectations, And Supervise Them

Good parenting involves setting healthy boundaries (Yes means YES and No means NO). Help them through the temptations and problems that may be influencing the desire to use and provide supervision. This means exploring choices and consequences regarding use.

9. Use Positive Reinforcement

Let your child know when you are pleased with their choices and continue to encourage such healthy decisions. Don’t just assume they know you are happy for their choices – tell them and show them.

10. Store Alcohol & Medications Behind Lock And Key

While you want to trust them, leaving drugs and alcohol out for easy access is too much of a temptation for many kids. 

In summary, use your good parenting skills to help your children get through their childhoods and teenage years. And know that if there are problems, there is information and treatment readily available to help you.

If you need help with teen substance use or other behaviors, check out Recovery Guidance for to locate addiction and mental health professionals near you.

Like it? Share with your friends!

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Carol Anderson
Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience in the fields of mental health, addictions, and co-occurring disorders. Her other specialties include grief and trauma, women’s issues, chronic pain management, holistic healing, GLBTQ concerns, and spirituality and transpersonal psychology. Dr. Anderson has been educated and trained in the fields of education, social work, and spirituality, and she holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (non-denominational/interfaith) specializing in spirituality.

Join Us

Sign up for our newsletter and receive our top articles
and promotions on our books and products!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.