What are some risk factors for early substance use?
The following risk factors do not determine whether your child will begin using a substance(s). However, they do put them at a higher risk for addiction. Addressing these risk factors prior to substance use can be beneficial and preventative.
- Family history of addiction
- Mental health concerns
- Lack of supervision
- Exposure to trauma or ACEs
- Easy access to substances
- Peer pressure
Potential warning signs of substance use in teens
How can you reduce the risks?
- Be involved
Being involved in your child’s life brings awareness of their activities, school attendance, grades, and behaviors, while also showing them your support. Being involved also includes knowing what goes on in their lives and knowing the children and parents around them.
Healthy communication between parent and child is important to inform them of the risks associated with substance use and answer any questions they may have. This type of communication is key to a healthy relationship and will make children more comfortable if an issue may occur.
- Stay educated
Know the risks and share them with your child. It Is also important to know the signs and always be observant.
- Be a positive role model
Be aware that your child is watching and listening. This includes listening to conversations with your spouse, your friends, and others. If you choose to drink in front of your child, try to do so safely and in moderation.
- Set and enforce rules
Children will be more likely to follow rules when there is a good relationship and communication In place. Explain to your child why certain rules must
be followed and share the potential harms and consequences if rules are broken.
“Why are you allowed to drink but I’m not?”
Factual answer: Adolescents are more vulnerable toaddiction than adults due to the brain development during at your age. Alcohol or any type ofsubstance use before the brain has developed increases the risks substantially of long lasting harm. For more information on brain development, visit
Tips on how to talk to your child about substance use
- Take advantage of real life situations, such as seeing seeing someone intoxicated at a restaurant, commercials about substances, movies with substance use in teens.
- Make them aware of your disapproval of substance use and explain the harms and consequences.
- Be open and nonjudgemental
- Be prepared to share personal experiences If you feel comfortable.
- Keep it short, but informative.
Did You Know?
Teen drug use is declining, with only 4.3% of high schoolers answering “yes” to using a substance within the past month. However, nearly 20% of high schoolers have been offered, sold or given drugs, on school property.
START THE START THE CONVERSATION
Has your child already started to use substances?
You are not alone. Remember that this is an issue that you should address with caution. The best way to start is by sitting them down and having a calm conversation at an appropriate time. Showing them that you care will be more beneficial than reacting in an angry manner. During this conversation, you want to try and set goals together. If you know the goals for your child will not be met without help, do not be afraid to reach out to resources in your community or one listed below.
- Partnership to End Addiction:
This site Is useful for parents who do not know the best way to confront their teen who may be using substances.
- Discovery Education’s Operation Prevention:
This site provides information on all aspects to prevent your child from using substances.
- Drug Free.org:
This document expands on the information and sections provided on PCCSU’s parent resources page.
- Teen Safe:
This page provides a list of resources regarding teen substance use for parents and children.
- Medicine Abuse Project:
This resource provides multiple examples of how to start the conversation with your child, no matter the age.
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids:
This E-book provides answers to multiple questions you may have regarding child substance use and what you can do to help.
- Renzoni, C. (2021, January 1). Drug Use in High School. Retrieved from
- NIDA. (2020, May 25). What are Risk Factors and Protective Factors?
Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents/chapter-1-risk-factors-protective-factors/what-are-risk-factors
- Partnership to End Addiction. (2020, July). Brain Development, Teen Behavior and Preventing Drug Use.
Retrieved from https://drugfree.org/article/brain-development-teen-behavior/
- BSAS. (2015, April). Preparing Your Young Children for a Healthy, Drug-Free Future. Retrieved from https://www.mass.gov/doc/preparing-your-young-children-for-a-healthy-drug-free-future-0/download
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