What Parents Can Do To Help Prevent Drug & Alcohol Use
Talk early. Talk often. Talk about drugs and alcohol.
What You Can Do
Navigating through the teen years can be difficult. Here are some simple things you can do to guide your teen through these challenging adolescent years.
Develop a Strong Connection With Your Child
Encourage and foster healthy bonds with your child. Children are less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol if they are closely connected to their parents and family.
It’s Never Too Early to Talk With Your Kids
Discuss drugs and alcohol with your kids early and it often. The BStrong Together website provides age-appropriate talking tips for talking with your kids about drugs and alcohol. It’s not just one conversation – repeated and frequent conversations are shown to be most effective. Be prepared for tough questions. “Did you drink when you were my age?” “If drinking is bad for me now, then why do you drink?” When you talk with your kids about alcohol and drugs, be ready to field these tough questions.
Set Family Rules
It is important that your teen knows your values, your position and your expectations when it comes to underage drinking and illegal drug use. Set clear boundaries and expectations about alcohol use and be consistent in enforcing your family rules. Research clearly shows strong parental disapproval is the number one reason teens choose not to drink alcohol. When teens were asked to rank the major influences in their lives, they place parents first and family second, before their friends and other influences.
Get to Know Your Teen’s Friends
Stay involved in your teen’s life. Know who their friends are, where they are going, and who they are with. An effective way to head off peer pressure that your teenager may be feeling is to get to know your teenager’s friends.
Be Home and Awake When Your Teen Comes Home
The majority (70%) of Barrington High School teens report that their parents would probably not catch them if they were to go out drinking. This is partly due to sleepovers and partly due to parents not being home or not being awake when their teens come home. Careful consideration must be given to sleepovers. Contact the hosting parents and confirm that they will be home and engaged to ensure that the teenagers will not consume alcohol. Make a commitment that you will be home and awake when your teenager returns home after being out with friends. Your teen should know you will be home and awake.
Do Not Provide Alcohol to Your Teen and Monitor Alcohol in Your Home
Most teens don’t buy their alcohol at the local store. According to Barrington High School’s 2017 Illinois Youth Survey, students report approximately 75% of the time, they are acquiring the alcohol from their parents – either with permission (46% for 12th graders and 35% for 10th graders) or without their permission (36% for 12th graders and 33% for 10th graders). Talk to your teen about the alcohol around the house and make clear that this alcohol is not for their use. Close your garage door when the garage is unattended or remove alcohol from a garage refrigerator.
Be a Good Role Model
Be a good role model for your teen – demonstrate positive decision-making and responsible, safe use of alcohol if you chose to drink. Click here to learn more about being a positive role model for your teen when it comes to drinking.
Secure Medications and Remove Unused Prescription Medications from the Home
According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, two-thirds of teens who report prescription drug abuse are obtaining the drugs from family, friends, or acquaintances. It is important to monitor all medications in your home – securing them and keeping track of the number of pills and the refills – especially if you have medications in your home that are known to be addictive and commonly abused by teens, including opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants. To keep your children and home safe, dispose of any unused prescription or over-the-counter medications by taking them to your local police department or select Walgreen’s and CVS stores. For a map of local drug disposal locations in Lake County, visit the Lake County Drug Disposal Map or the Cook County Meds Disposal Initiative website to find locations in Cook County.
Have a Code Word or Phrase for Difficult Situations
You and your teen need to develop a “Code Word” or phrase which they can say on the phone or put in a text message alerting you that they need help getting out of a difficult/dangerous situation. Work out this “Code Word” or phrase in advance and be ready and willing to help your teen if they ever use it.
Spread the Word
Talk to other parents and spread the word about the importance of addressing underage drinking. On this issue, there truly is strength in numbers.
Join BStrong Together
It is a great way to stay knowledgeable and up-to-date on this issue! Join the BStrong Together email list here.
Attend BStrong Together Guest Speaker Events and Parent Coffees
These informative sessions typically start with a local expert providing background on a particular related topic, followed by open discussion among parents. Stay up to date with BStrong Together events by subscribing to our Tuesday Tips, Tools & Try This emails and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.