Model healthy behaviour. Children and youth are most likely to use substances in the same way as adults in their lives.
Model healthy communication skills. Be a good listener and respect the child or youth's right to have an opinion. Don't lecture or exaggerate the harm from substances. Allow them to talk openly about their experiences.
Encourage healthier choices:
- Encourage activities that make it harder to use drugs such as a sport or hobby that requires clear thinking and a healthy body.
- Explain the dangers of driving after drinking or using substances.
- Show how to turn down offers to use substances without feeling embarrassed.
- Teach what to do if something goes wrong. Suggest alternatives like asking you for a ride home from a party or taking a taxi home from a concert.
Be open, loving and involved. A youth who feels loved will have more confidence. They will handle pressure better and be more able to overcome problems at home and school.
Handle problems responsibly. If your child comes home drunk or high:
- Stay calm. Let everyone get some sleep before you have a big discussion.
- Notice their condition. Try to find out what they have been using and how much. That way you can judge if they are in trouble or just need time to sober up.
- Find out how they feel about the substance(s) they are using or have tried. Ask when, how often and with whom they have used substances. Get them to explain why they use substances or what benefits they are getting out of it. This will help you create a new bond and keep the lines of communication open.
- Talk about your concerns. Explain how you feel and why you are worried about their substance use.
- Discuss healthier choices. Offer some ideas that have a different kind of rush or excitement like rock-climbing and mountain-biking. A fun goal to work toward may distract their attention away from substances.