Blog Post

A Guide to Safeguarding Teens Against Addiction

Let’s begin this blog by saying, “Let’s be real…” Parenting is most likely the toughest job you will encounter through your entire life span. Parents have a critical role in guiding their teens away from the dangers of addiction. The upswing rise on substance abuse and other addictive behaviors among teens, it’s more important than ever before to take a proactive approach. Today, we will focus our attention towards taking practical steps that you can take to safeguard your teen from addictions.

Practical Steps

  • Open and Honest: Communicating with your teen is the most important step to guiding your teen with challenging situations that they face daily. Creating a safe space where they feel comfortable and not judged is key for them to begin sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Your teen needs to be able to trust you with the information they decide to disclose to you, which means please do not share it with others, unless they tell you that it is okay. Encourage them to come to you with questions, concerns, or problems that they may have.
    • Establish an ‘Open Door Policy’ and be present. Take control of your reactions and do your best to accept what you hear. Be attuned to their emotional pain that they may be using addictive behaviors to avoid feeling them.
  • Education and Proper Resources: Provide your teen(s) with accurate information regarding the risks of addiction. Educate them with proper information about drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviors. Provide evidence from valid resources (preferably not from social media). Assist them to understand the consequences of substance abuse on their physical health, relationships, and future aspirations.
  • Set Expectations: Set clear boundaries and rules regarding substance use and other risky behaviors. For instance, if your teen is actively engaging in alcohol consumption that may be concerning, inform them that behavior is unacceptable and there will be no tolerance for it in your home. Remember, you can only control what comes in and occurs in your home. You might want to say something like, “You are welcome to live in our home, but alcohol is not permitted to be your roommate. Be firm yet fair in your loving approach. Make sure to enforce your boundaries and keep them consistent.
  • Role Model: “Do as I say, not as I do”! This is not the type of role model you want to be for your teens. They are intuitive and intelligent. They are watching what you do and likely not paying attention to what you are saying. Your actions speak louder than your words. Modeling healthy behaviors is likely going to help your teen make better choices. Avoid using drugs or alcohol excessively and always demonstrate healthy decision-making.
  • Healthy Coping Skills: Teens need tools to draw on when experiencing stress, anxiety, peer pressure, loss, depression, emotional dysregulation, and unpleasant emotions that lead to angry outbursts. Encourage them to participate in sports, extracurricular activities such as drama, choir, band, etc. Engage in hobbies with them that they show interest in. Assist them to build a strong support system through family and friends. Teach them how to pray and lean into their spiritual faith for strength.
  • Be Involved: Monitor their activities and show genuine interest in their lives. Spend time with them and ask open-ended questions. Instead of saying, “How was school today?”, Try “What was your favorite part of the day?” This approach can lead to deeper conversations. Set reasonable curfews and check in with them regularly. Remind them that you are safe person to turn towards when they are in a difficult situation.
  • Be Supportive: Here it is… make sure you are available when your teen needs you. Many times, parents get very busy with work and home responsibilities that their teen feel are unimportant and unvaluable. This is your opportunity to show them that they matter and are more important than an email that needs to be sent out to a co-worker. Let them know that you are always ready to listen to them and help them through challenges.

Need Help?

Seek Professional Support: If you suspect that your teen is struggling with addiction or is at risk of developing a problem, seek professional help. Consult with a therapist or addiction specialist who can provide you with guidance and support for both you and your teen.

By taking a proactive approach and steps to safeguard your teen against addiction, you can help them navigate the challenges and build a healthy and fulfilling future.

 

Our skilled therapists are ready to support you on this very difficult and challenging journey we call Parenting. Please contact our office at 714-617-5955 or schedule an appointment directly through our website: www.nurturingconnectionscounseling.com. We are here to support you through your journey and to let you know that you are not alone. Our therapists are compassionate and genuinely demonstrate their care.

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