As an adult, you might be thinking about all the ways you can protect the children in your life. This world can be quite crazy at times and there are many things that can tear down our youth. Substance abuse and addiction are two of those things.However, it is important to note that addiction doesn’t just affect our youth. It affects people of all age ranges. For National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, our Southeast Addiction team wants to offer you some addiction prevention tips for all ages.
Unfortunately, there are children as young as 7 or 8 who are trying alcohol and/or drugs. They don’t even understand what damage it can cause, but when they see their older siblings or other people in the family trying it, they want to be just like them.
If you have preschooler-aged children in your life, you can start teaching them now during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, about the harmful nature of drugs and alcohol. Some of the addiction prevention tips you can teach kids this young include:
- Talking to them about the difference between medications and candy or other food
- Explaining that they should only take medication prescribed to or given to them by a trusted adult
- Talking to them about the dangers of smoking
- Explaining to these kids about how important it is to take good care of their bodies with good sleep, exercising, and eating right
- Celebrating positive decisions these kids make
- Lock up dangerous substances that are in your home
- Teaching them that what they might see on television isn’t real-world stuff
These are some of the best ways that you can prevent an addiction later in life for someone who is preschooler-aged now. If you have more questions or concerns about children this age and substance abuse, talk to their doctor, a therapist or another medical professional.
Early Elementary-Aged Children
Children who are in early elementary are around 5 to 8 years old. Some of these children may have already come across family members who smoke, use drugs or drink alcohol. At this age, kids are very influenced by what their loved ones and friends are doing.They are also eager to please, so if they think that someone wants them to do something, they are likely going to do it.
If you have children this age, please pay attention to these addiction prevention tips now during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and at all other times during the year, as well:
- Talking to your child about the pills or medications you are taking or that are in your house
- Discussing how alcohol is dangerous and only legal for adults
- Talking to these kids about their choice in style, especially when they seem to want to please others by choosing certain outfits
- Discussing their behavior when it seems to match that of a certain friend group
- Talking with your kids about messages they may see in movies, on television or at school from friends (how do they feel about these messages, what should they take out of them, etc.)
- Talking about the long-term consequences of substance abuse
- Discussing the difference between prescription and illegal drug use
- Starting to problem-solve together, so they can learn healthy tools for solving problems in life
- Learning more about your kid’s friends and their families
If you do these things with or for early elementary-aged children, it can help to lower their risk of substance abuse and addiction during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and throughout the rest of the year, too.
Preteens are children between the ages of 9 and 12. Generally, at this age, children are trying to figure out who they are, where they belong and what personality they have. They may also start to question rules at school or in their household. This can be healthy and normal, however, it is important to keep preteens on track with healthy choices to lower their risk of addiction now and in the future.
Some addiction prevention tips for preteens include:
- Talking to them about peer pressure
- Letting them know it is okay to talk to you or other trusted adults about what their friends are doing
- Discussing prescription drugs and how they are only for the person who the prescription is for
- Talking to them about illegal drugs and what dangers those have
- Discussing their favorite actors and any addictions related to those people
- Continuously discussing the rules of the house and in life and letting your kids ask questions about those rules
- Talking about consequences of actions
- Discussing mental health (insecurities, doubts, peer pressure, puberty changes, etc.)
- Learning more about your kid’s friends and their families
These are some of the best ways that you can help preteens to lower their risk of addiction.
Unfortunately, there are already so many teenagers who are abusing alcohol and/or drugs. We know that many teenagers already have a vast knowledge of drugs and alcohol due to friends, family situations and the internet. It is important, however, that we ensure our teenagers have the proper, correct information about harmful substances. By doing this, we can help to prevent addiction for the teenagers in our lives.
Some of the best addiction prevention tips for teenagers include:
- Talking about the dangers of vaping and smoking marijuana or THC
- Reminding your child about peer pressure and who they can turn to if they are feeling pressured
- Discussing friendships and the change of friend groups
- Getting to know your kid’s friends and their families, especially if their friend groups have changed
- Don’t shout or yell at your kid (discuss with them what is happening or ask questions calmly – they are more likely to respond and tell the truth that way)
- Continue talking about consequences, rules and life choices
- Discussing what the future might hold if they abuse alcohol and/or drugs
- Talking to them about the treatment options for substance abuse
- Giving them resources for teenager support groups
- Asking open-ended questions about drugs and alcohol to find out more about what they know
- Continue showing interest in how your teen is feeling (whether that be good or bad feelings)
- Continue celebrating their positive choices in life
If you can do these things for and with your teenagers, they are going to be more self-aware, have better self-confidence and have a lower risk of abusing alcohol and drugs.
If you find out that your teeanger is already abusing these substances, we have treatment programs here at Southeast Addiction Center that can help them to get sober and into a recovering lifestyle.
Prevent Addiction for All Ages During National Substance Abuse Prevention Month
You read about some ways to prevent addiction in children of all ages. You can use many of these tips starting today. It is also important to continue supporting your kids as they move into adulthood. That way, your adult child is less likely to start abusing alcohol and drugs later in life.
If your child needs addiction treatment, we have what they need here at Southeast Addiction Center. Contact us today to find out more about our treatment options and about the addiction prevention resources we have, as well.