Drug addiction is a serious issue for thousands of teens all across the country. However, drug addiction is often just the result of other underlying issues and not the cause. At Adult & Teen Challenge USA, our organization has over 60 years of experience in helping teens and adults overcome their drug addictions. One question that many parents have asked our staff over the years is if there is any way to prevent—or at least significantly reduce the chance of—drug addiction in their children. While there is no guaranteed drug prevention method, there are several things you can do to create an environment for your teens to feel safe and have alternative outlets for issues in life than drugs.
Create an Environment of Communication
As it was mentioned above, drug abuse and addiction often stems from stronger underlying issues. People, especially teenagers, will turn to whatever gives them a sense of relief and peace when they become overwhelmed with something happening in life. An important way to prevent your teen from turning to drugs is by creating an environment in your home where they feel comfortable sharing what is going on in their lives. Good communication is great to establish as early as possible, so when big issues arise there is already an environment of trust in communication.
Don’t Expect Perfection
While it may seem a bit daunting to create this type of environment, there are a few simple things you can do to start. The most important step is to actually listen to what you teen has to say. When they come to you with something they are struggling with, the fastest way to never get them to talk to you again is to yell at them without providing the chance to explain. Thank them for opening up to you and help them figure out ways to resist peer pressure and overcome whatever struggles they are dealing with.
Your teen is going to mess up sometimes. That’s part of life and how they learn to make the right decisions later on in life. While having good standards for your teen is important, it is also extremely important to make sure they don’t feel like they have to be perfect all the time. That constant stress of perfection is not healthy or possible to maintain. Allow your teen to fail, and be there for them and help them figure out how to recover from their mistake and move forward. Don’t fix the problem for them but be there for guidance and support.
Continually Build Your Relationship
An effective way to create an environment of communication and set up reasonable expectations for your teen is by purposefully seeking out opportunities to build a stronger relationship with them. Invest your time with your teen. Plan fun times together and discover activities that you both enjoy doing. The lighthearted times create trust, which is immensely important for communication when times get tough.