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Tips for Preventing Substance Abuse

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The use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs is one of the biggest problems facing people today. There are no guarantees that someone you love will not choose to use drugs, but you can influence that decision by:

  • Not using drugs yourself
  • Providing guidance and clear rules about not using drugs
  • Spending time with your loved one sharing the good and the bad times

Use the following tips to help guide thoughts and behaviors about drugs:

  1. Talk honestly. Don’t wait to have “the drug talk” with someone. Make discussions about tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs part of your daily conversation. Know the facts about how drugs can harm. Clear up any wrong information, such as “everybody drinks” or “marijuana won’t hurt you.” Be clear about personal rules for and legal implications of the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
  2. Really listen. Encourage questions and concerns about tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. Do not do all the talking or give long lectures.
  3. Help develop self-confidence. Look for all the good things in yourself or someone you care about– and then tell them (or yourself) how proud you are. If you need to correct, criticize the action, not the person. Praise efforts as well as successes.
  4. Help develop strong values. Talk about your personal values.
  5. Be a good example. Your own habits and thoughts about tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs make an impression. Your actions speak louder than words.
  6. Help deal with peer pressure and acceptance. Discuss the importance of being an individual and the meaning of real friendships. You do not have to do something wrong just to feel accepted. Remind yourself that a real friend won’t care if he does not use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
  7. Encourage healthy, creative activities. Look for ways to get involved in athletics, hobbies, school clubs, and other activities that reduce boredom and excess free time. Develop positive friendships and interests. Look for activities that you can do together.
  8. Know what to do if someone you love has a drug problem. Realize that no one is immune to drugs. Learn the signs of drug use. Take seriously any concerns you hear from friends, family, or other students about possible drug use. Trust your instincts. If you truly feel that something is wrong, it probably is. If there’s a problem, seek professional help.

Information adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics.