Preventing teen substance abuse is something that more parents need to learn more about…before their children enter their teenage years. Unfortunately, the majority of parents think that their kids won’t ever be the ones who becomes an addict. However, this is never a guarantee, which is why parents need to take the time to learn about teen substance abuse and how to help prevent it. The first step in preventing teen substance abuse is understanding the most common reasons why teens start experimenting with drugs, alcohol and other dangerous substances. These include: Genetics/Family History There have been many studies done that have shown addictions such as alcoholism are much like a disease and may be linked to genetics or a family history of abuse. Therefore, if substance abuse runs in your family, you need to watch your teens closely for common indicators. Low Self-Esteem/Depression Low self-esteem and depression are common among teens with substance abuse. Usually the teens feel like the substances they’re using give them a temporary break from their problems. Lack of Parental Involvement – Some teens begin hanging out with the wrong crowd and experimenting with various substances because they are bored and there isn’t anyone (parents) at home who show an interest in them. Peer Pressure In many instances, peer pressure is involved when teens try a dangerous substance for the first time. Teens don’t want to appear scared or weak in front of their friends, so they give in against their better judgment. Location and Availability Often times, where a family lives plays an important role in teen substance abuse. For example, those in poverty stricken neighborhoods generally have higher substance abuse rates because the availability of the “product” is higher. Above are the most common reasons teens begin to try various substances. So, what should you, as a parent, do to prevent this? Below are a few tips: Talk About Teen Substance Abuse Many parents feel that by ignoring the issue, their kids will just know that experimenting with drugs and alcohol is bad. However, this isn’t the case. Sometimes kids take your lack of involvement to mean that you don’t care. So, when presented with the opportunity by friends they take it. Therefore, you need to begin talking to your kids about the dangers of experimenting with various substances well before they reach the teenage years. Share Your Experiences If you experimented with dangerous substances as a kid, then be willing to talk to your child about it. Talk to your child about the seriousness of what you did and how things could have went bad fast. Your kids are interested in you and your past and will often listen when you start talking about your adolescence. Create Scenarios One of the best things parents can do with younger (grade school) age children is to create various types of practice scenarios with them. You can pretend to be a friend who is trying to get your friend to try a new drug. This will help your child to develop a strategy for saying no to friends who try to do this in the future. Be Involved – Finally, the most important things parents can do who want to prevent teen substance abuse is to be actively involved in their children’s lives. Make a point to spend quality time with your kids and to attend their school functions and extracurricular activities when you can. When your child feels loved and accepted at home, hanging out with “friends” who experiment with various substances will lose its appeal.