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Home » Disorders & Strategies » Substance Abuse » Substance Abuse Home Strategies

Substance Abuse Home Strategies

  • Tell and show your child regularly that you love them!
  • Keep your child busy and engaged in meaningful activities!  Boredom is a friend to teenage substance abuse. 
  • Be clear about expectations and rules at home regarding use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Voice explicitly that drug and alcohol use is not acceptable in children and adolescents.
  • Make use of any learning opportunities that arise about the concerns of drug and alcohol use, like news segments, newspaper or magazine articles.
  • Ask your child in non-confrontational ways about the culture of substance use in their social circles.  Be supportive and open to their experience.
  • Be consistent with follow-through on consequences and match the punishment with the offense, with safety being the highest priority.
  • Make a plan ahead of time on how you will respond to a variety of scenarios like them needing a ride home, if the driver is intoxicated or what will happen if you find a joint in their room.
  • Pay attention to sudden changes of friends, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, or increased isolation. Yes, some of this is typical adolescent behavior as children try to find themselves, but you know your child best. Trust your gut.
  • Pay attention to your child’s appearance, scent, eyes, physical and emotional presentation when returning home from being out or in their room for an extended period of time. Comment on observable data without accusation. “Your eyes seem very red and watery, are you feeling ok?”
  • Pay attention to direct statements made to you from concerned parties about your child. Friends tend to tell trusted adults when they are worried about their friends. Do your best to be open and not defensive.
  • If your child has questions about drugs or alcohol, try to answer openly and honestly about keep the conversation going. Authoritarian or reactive responses tend to close down communication.
  • Be invested in your child’s activities or talents by attending events, asking how practices or meetings are going and write upcoming events on the family calendar.
  • Ask your children every day how things are going at school, with friends, or any other topic of interest. It doesn’t matter if they don’t want to answer or if they give minimal answers. You’re showing your investment.
  • If your children ask about your own substance use, be honest, but do not glamorize your experiences.  Explain that you may not have always made good choices and tell them what that was related to (like peer pressure or feeling like you don’t fit in all the time.)  It is another chance to connect wtih your child and let them know you had struggles as a teenager too.
  • Model appropriate use of legal substances.  Model healthy drinking if you drink at all.  A glass of wine with dinner can be appropriate, but a six pack of beer while watching a football game is binge drinking.  Show them how to be responsible by being responsible yourself.  This will be their biggest influence.
  • If any paraphernalia, substances, writings, or electronic notes about drugs and alcohol are discovered, ask your child about them when you are calm and open for discussion.
  • Drug testing can be a reasonable response to suspected drug use. Encourage your child to participate voluntarily. If they admit to use, schedule an evaluation with a substance abuse professional.
  • Home intervention for substance abuse is very individualized to a youth and/or family’s needs. If your child has a substance use/abuse problem, consult with a substance abuse professional to help you develop a home intervention plan.