Drug use is an epidemic; then again the term epidemic might be misleading considering that mind altering substances have been around since the dawn of mankind. As a Professional Counselor, who has spent a significant portion of his career working with teens that have developed a dependency for drugs and alcohol; I have learned five primary things about the families who have been fortunate in being able to steer their adolescent children from drugs. So here are five actions you can begin taking today, (even if your child is not yet a teen) to ensure, your teen doesn’t develop a habitual pattern of drug and alcohol abuse.

One: Don’t use drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
Don’t use drugs, tobacco and alcohol. Yes I know, most fathers reading this might find the alcohol portion to be a put off, but there are research studies that support the belief that genetics plays a big role in addiction and habitual abuse of substances. Furthermore the number one excuse that most kids who use drugs will give is that they have parents who use drugs or drink alcohol, and that the parents are just fine. We are all biologically different, so while there are people who use and drink and get away with minimum side effects, your teen could be among the unlucky many who are more susceptible to drug abuse and /or addiction.

Two: Problem Solving.
Teach your teen to embrace problem solving issues, from being picked on, to not making a team, to-(the nightmare of most parents) receiving bad grades in school. Learn not to catastrophize problems in your life or problems your child is going through. Show your child through role modeling that problems are to be embraced and taken with stride because there are seldom quick solutions. Time and time again during psychotherapy with teens that are dependent of drugs and alcohol, I have found that their initial usage was triggered by a desire to fix a problem. Usually in regards to numbing painful feelings experienced from the ongoing problem.

Three: Know Thy Friends.
Most parents I work with see their child as being negatively influenced by their friends, in half these cases, it turns out that the child was the primary negative influence on others in the community. The primary reason you want to know our child’s friends is to gain an understanding of where your child is emotionally and mentally. It would be nice if you got to know the parents of your child, but don’t waste your time with this one, as your child is more than likely to interpret you wanting to know his or her friends’ parents, as a sign of prejudice and control. They may secretly not want to adopt your lifestyle and that’s okay. Instead in getting to know your child’s friends, focus on what makes them tick, what they like to do for fun, and what their hopes and dreams are. It is important to note that style of clothing is always a terrible predictor of who your child’s friends really are.

Four: Educate your child about drugs and alcohol.
Educate yourself, and then educate your child about drugs and alcohol and their detrimental side effects. Don’t rely on your child’s school to do this, even if you know for a fact that they have such a mandatory program. During the time you take to educate your child, you can also seize upon the opportunity to set your ground rules and expectations with your child about the possibility of drug use. Remember no catastrophizing; just be firm and straight forward with your plan of actions, in the event you were to find out that drug use is going on.

Five: Unconditional Positive Regard.
This is very important, it is not unusual for parents to have such high expectations for their sons and daughters, and then become terribly disappointed when things don’t go to plan. It is important that no matter what your child is going through, you should always be cognizant about showing them genuine love and care. Genuine love and care, does not translate into enabling, and it does not mean you shouldn’t set firm boundaries and consequences. Just remember that your child does not have to meet your expectations in order for him or her to be loved.

Author's Bio: 

Ugo Uche is a Licensed Professional Counselor, based in Arizona. For more information about this topic, please visit: www.road2resolutions.com