Use these guidelines to create your family’s plan. Customize, modify, or edit the suggestions to meet your family’s needs, principles, values, and living situation.
- Discuss boundaries, rules, and consequences with your spouse or partner regarding drug and alcohol use by your child, and come to an agreement before presenting the plan to your child.
- Make sure all adults involved in raising the child are on the same page, unified, and sharing a consistent message on drug and alcohol use
- Be clear, concise, and consistent with your rules, and explain them clearly to your child long before they are likely to encounter the temptation to use alcohol or drugs.
- Model the behavior you want to see in your child. As parents, our actions speak louder than our words.
- Be intentional about talking with your child regarding drugs and alcohol. Create regular opportunities for a two-way dialogue. They are likely to encounter temptation and pressure to use drugs or alcohol multiple times, therefore your conversation on the topic shouldn’t just be a one-time talk.
- Share real-life examples of drug and alcohol use and their consequences. If someone the child knows has suffered consequences due to drugs and alcohol, that experience makes it more real to them as opposed to simply being a general warning.
- If the genetics of alcoholism and addiction run in your family, let your child know that they may be at greater risk to struggle with alcoholism or addiction if they choose to drink or use, especially prior to adulthood.
- Listen more than you speak. Let them express their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experiences. If they feel they are genuinely being heard, they will feel more comfortable opening up to you.
- Role play scenarios with your child to allow them to practice their reason for saying “no” when they are offered drugs or alcohol.
- Eat a meal as a family consistently at least five days a week. Research has shown that regular family dinners without electronic distractions can make youth less likely to use drugs or alcohol. If family meals are not possible, set aside other regular time weekly to engage in an activity together that lends itself to open conversation and active listening.
- Answer your child’s questions honestly at an age-appropriate level
- Share personal/family use history with honesty but in a safe and controlled manner and without glamorizing past use.
Promote Healthy Behaviors and Self-Care
- Teach your child strategies to handle stress in a positive manner
- Encourage your child to engage in healthy behaviors such as music, writing, art, sports, exercise, faith, helping others, etc.
- Support them in the activities that they enjoy
- Read notMYkid’s blog entry on helping stressed teens
- Ensure that your child is getting sufficient sleep, exercise, nutrition, and time outdoors.
- Maintain healthy limits on electronic use or “screen time” by your child
- Research online. Learn to recognize commonly used drugs as well as drug paraphernalia and concealment devices.
- Be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol use.
- Learn current terminology, slang, and symbols related to drugs.
- Become a knowledgable and credible resource for your child through educating yourself.
- Lock up and monitor alcohol, prescription drugs, and over the counter medications in your home.
- Properly dispose of unused prescription medication. (info available under “Safe Medicine Disposal Locators” section here)
- Be aware of household items that could be used to get high: OTC medications, gasoline, spray paint, keyboard duster, some types of glue, etc. Restrict your child’s access to those items.
- Create an environment where your kids and their friends feel comfortable, but not a place where they are able to drink or use.
- Get to know your child’s friends, and their friends’ siblings, parents, and families.
- Be conscious of your child’s technology use and what they’re reading, posting, and encountering on their phones and tablets.
- Get familiar with the apps and websites your teen uses.
- Consider the use of parental control and monitoring software such as Bark. (Use code NOTMYKID for 30 days free)
- Check your child’s room, vehicle, or backpack on a regular basis
- Discuss your boundaries around drugs and alcohol with the adults/parents your child interacts with.
Educate Your Community
- Educate your friends, family members, and other parents on strategies related to preventing youth substance use
- Elicit the support of family, friends, coaches, religious leaders, community members, etc. to help prevent youth substance use
- Encourage members of your community to create their own substance use prevention plans as well
- Consider using home drug testing as a way to prevent or intervene in your child’s substance use. Knowing they’ll be tested by their parents can deter many youth from using drugs, and also offers them an out when offered drugs by their peers. If you do get a positive test, it provides clarity on exactly what substance your child is using, and therefore what they need help with.
- Verify that your child is adhering to your other rules and guidelines related to curfew, whereabouts, grades, online behavior, etc.
- If you discover that your child has been using drugs or alcohol, get connected with a behavioral health professional or agency for guidance and assistance. You can contact notMYkid by texting the word “QUESTION” to our assistance line at (602) 584-8474. You’ll be sent a form to fill out and a notMYkid staff member will contact you. You can also call notMYkid’s office at (602) 652-0163.
- Visit our resource and support page to find behavioral health resource locators, information on support groups, and other behavioral health assistance.