10 Tips on How to Become a “Prevention Parent”

10 tips to prevent teen drug abuseThis year, National Prevention Week is being observed between May 17th and May 23rd. This is a time to put the focus on how young people can be steered away from drug use or underage alcohol use.

Most parents truly want their kids to stay sober and drug-free but may not know how to ensure this happens. For this occasion, Narconon would like to offer parents tips on how to be a Prevention Parent.

1. Stay sober yourself. Drink lightly or not at all. Never, ever drink and drive and see that your kids know you will never do this.

2. When the use of opiate painkillers (Vicodin, Lortab, Oxycontin, etc.) is necessary, use as little as possible for the shortest time possible and make this known. When possible, seek other alternatives for pain relief like non-opiate pain relievers or alternative therapies like massage, physical therapy, acupuncture, nutrition.

secure prescription medications3. Ensure all prescription drugs (painkillers, antidepressants, sedatives, muscle relaxants, stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall) are under lock and key when they are not actually being accessed by the person for whom they have been prescribed. It’s not just your kids you are protecting. You’re also protecting their visiting friends and any other workmen or visitors to your home. If a person who’s abusing pills visits your home, they may look in your medicine chest to see if there’s a pill bottle they can lift a few pills from.

Don’t overlook family members who may be ill, injured or approaching death. As inconvenient as it might be, their medications should also be secured. Some young people have found pills at a sick relative’s bedside and taken some for their own use.

4. Make sure that your alcohol is stored where it can’t be accessed by your children or their visitors. Some teens make a practice of sneaking into homes in their neighborhoods to steal alcohol from garages or other storage locations.

5. Know the drug situation in your region and in particular, your town and your child’s school. Police and sheriff’s departments usually have a community relations officer. Ask to be briefed on what they know. This will enable you to boost your children’s education on those threats.

6. Make it very clear that you expect your children to stay drug and alcohol free until they are 21 years old. If they abstain from drug use until this age, research shows that they are practically certain to never have a substance abuse problem. For more information on this point, visit http://casafamilyday.org/familyday/did-you-know/.

7. Carefully monitor parties or other gatherings your child attends. Make it clear that they should walk out of events where underage kids are drinking or where anyone is using illicit drugs or abusing prescription drugs. And then they should call you for a ride home if needed.

8. If your teen-age child or young adult offspring is going to a music festival, make sure they are well-educated on the risks of the kinds of drugs found there – risks that can include death the first time that drug is used. For more information on the types of drugs commonly used at different music festivals, visit this website: http://www.youredm.com/2015/05/06/new-study-finds-most-common-drugs-at-music-festivals/.

9. If your teen is going away to college, make sure they are fully informed on the drug and alcohol-abusing culture they could find there and that they are confident in how to avoid this distraction to their educational plans. Plan on carefully monitoring their first year away. A surprise drop-in visit or even two might make your concern unmistakable. There are further tips for your budding student here: http://www.smartstudent.co.za/2013/11/5-tips-staying-sober-college/.

10. Do your own homework to make sure you know more about the drugs your kids might encounter than they do. This way, you can tell them the truth about the dangers before a drug dealer or drug-using friend lies to them about how “harmless” or “legal” a drug is. And then be sure to tell them and answer all their questions. That way, your kids will KNOW why they must say no.

This step might be easier than it sounds. Narconon has collected various information in an easy-to-use form to help you get started. Visit the Narconon Parent Center at http://www.narconon.org/drug-abuse/parent-center.html. You’ll find materials filling you in on heroin, cocaine, synthetic drugs, prescription drugs and more. Later in National Prevention Week, we’ll point out more of our materials you can use to keep your kids drug-free and safe into their adulthood.

About Sue Birkenshaw

Sue Birkenshaw has worked with Narconon in the drug prevention and rehabilitation field for nearly three decades and has extensive experience in drug education programs with both school based programs as well as broad public outreach.