Helping your son to avoid falling into the trap of drug and alcohol use isn’t something you can do in five minutes. It takes time and effort as well as follow-up attention—and it’s not always easy. Here are a few tips to help you get through to your son that drinking and drugs are not the right path for him:
- Know the truth. Understanding drug abuse and addiction and how these can develop as well as the potential harm they can bring is the first step in conveying this information to your kids. You want to have the facts, to know the details, so that you can accurately share with your son what he needs to know about substance abuse. This may mean knowing what substances are most commonly abused among teens, what they look like, what the high is like, and what kids in your area are most often abusing.
- Educate your kids. Once you know the truth, share the pertinent information with your kids. Don’t get bogged down in details and don’t overemphasize—or avoid—why people enjoy using drugs and alcohol. Instead, give a fair and balanced assessment, letting them know that drug and alcohol use may be fun at first but they can lead to illness, bad decisions, embarrassing situations, and potentially deadly problems, and the high is just not worth the risk.
- Be a good example. They say that more is caught than taught, and that means that if you’re telling your son that drinking and drug use is not okay for him, then your actions should demonstrate that you respect the substances as well. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism advocates that men over the age of 21 not drink more than 14 drinks in a week and no more than four drinks on any single day, and that women should avoid drinking more than seven drinks in a week and have no more than three drinks on any one day. Of course, use of any illegal drug will demonstrate to your teen that it’s okay for him too—as long as he doesn’t get caught.
- Set boundaries. Make strong zero-tolerance rules around drug and alcohol use and abuse for your teen at home but make sure he has a safe way to get home if he finds himself in a potentially dangerous situation (e.g., if he ends up drinking and has no one to drive him home).
- Follow through on consequences when boundaries are crossed. Should your son be unable to maintain these boundaries, there should be consequences. Don’t be lenient or allow for extenuating circumstances to negate your policies. Letting your son slide is an invitation to repeat the behavior and could have devastating consequences that are far worse than losing privileges.
If your son is struggling with substance abuse despite your best efforts to help him pull himself out of it, professional rehabilitation can help him to avoid a lifetime spent struggling with the disorder. Call us at Muir Wood today for assistance.