Being upfront and honest about drugs with your teen is a vital first step toward keeping your teen safe from substance usage.
A strong bond with your child and open communication, especially during the teen years, help reduce the chances of children engaging in unhealthy behaviour and helps set the stage for preventing nicotine, alcohol and drug use.
Here are 10 tips on how to safeguard your child against substance abuse, and pointers on how to explain the subject of substance abuse in a way that your teen will appreciate and comprehend.
- Teens need structure to stay safe. Setting clear rules about drugs and alcohol can help. You can’t guarantee that your rules won’t be broken but research shows that teens who have clear rules, even if they’re broken, are less likely to get into serious trouble than teens who don’t.
- Pay close attention to where your teen hangs out with their friends. Discover what type of activities your teen is interested in and help encourage them to get involved.
- Be a good role model. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Use prescription drugs only as directed by your physician and stay away from illicit drugs.
- Inform your teen that you wish to talk about drugs and alcohol with them ahead of time, and schedule the talk during a time when both you and your teen are not pressed for time. After dinner, before bed, before school or on the way to or from school and extracurricular activities can work well.
- Speak to your teen in the manner in which you would like to be addressed. Respect conveys the impression that you trust them to act responsibly.
- If you want to have a productive conversation with your teen, try to keep an open mind and remain calm.
- Acknowledge that everyone struggles sometimes, but drugs and alcohol are not a useful or healthy way to cope with problems.
- Help your teen understand why drinking or using drugs is dangerous and how poor decisions might affect their life.
- Allow your teen to communicate their fears and feelings. Let your teen ask questions and answer their questions honestly.
- Make sure your child understands that they call you for support in any scenario.
Where to get help
If you are worried your teen may have a drug addiction, speak to your family doctor or contact one of the following organisations below:
- National Department of Social Development: (012) 312-7500 / 7641 / 7653
- SADAG Substance Abuse Helpline 0800 12 13 14, SMS 32312
- Alcoholics Anonymous: 0861 435 7222
- SANCA: (011) 781-6410
- Narcotics Anonymous: 083 900 6962