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It Is Simple to Keep Your Child Off Drugs

Dec 1, 2009

by Larry Fritzlan

It is simple to keep your child off drugs.

  1. Simply say “No.”
  2. If that does not work, get help.

Today’s teens are at risk. Substance use and abuse has been with us for thousands of years, but powerful drugs have never been so available to our youth. Science now understands that drug addiction and alcoholism are mental disorders, diseases that almost always start in the teen years. A teen that gets drunk at age 14 has a 47% chance of developing a potentially fatal brain disease called alcoholism. While a teen that does not drink until age 18 has only a 9% chance of becoming an alcoholic. 

Today’s teens go to schools where powerful drugs are readily available. For the 15% of the population that will experience adult addiction, this availability may be tragic.

It is a parent's job to keep their child safe.

Healthy families have:

  • Rules – we all need to know where we stand. We have rules about hurting people, carrying guns, etc. One family rule needs to be, “No drugs.”
  • Roles – Parents parent. They are in charge. And kids, their role is to have fun, be a kid, and grow up.
  • Regulating mechanisms – This is the process whereby the parents continually adjust their parenting to keep their children developing.
  • Boundaries – being able to set limits and hold to them.
  • Hierarchies – Everyone understands that the parents are more powerful than the children. Parents rule. Kids obey.

Children need two things: recognition and limits. They need to be recognized as lovable and unique. And they need limits. Without limits they will be miserable. They will push for freedom (a good thing!) but need someone to set limits until they are grown up and can do it themselves.

Parents need to be the Pack Leader of their pack. Teen and young adult drug use is a symptom of a failed Hierarchy. It is a pretty simple thing to fix with some guidance. A good family therapist is trained to help fix the structure.

Don’t be an enabler. If you can't create a home in which your child chooses to stop addictive behaviors, call a professional who specializes in treating families with addiction problems.