There have been many different books and programs about substance abuse and teens, but they all agree on one thing: prevention is far more valuable than treatment. A major factor in preventing teen drug use is the attitude of parents toward illegal substances, as well as tobacco, alcohol, and other legal drugs. Parents must set the example and send the message to their kids that these behaviors and attitudes are not acceptable. Other factors, such as peer pressure, thrill seeking, rebellion, escape, and just plain curiosity also may cause teens to want to experiment. In addition to illegal substances being extremely harmful, there are also legal drugs that can provide cheap and dangerous thrills. Although they'renot legally supposed to be sold to minors, such products as tobacco, alcohol, and inhalants are available at the corner store. These, along with marijuana, may become gateways to use of harder, even more dangerous drugs. In addition to modeling behavior you want children to follow, you should begin talking early about substance abuse and teach kids about consequences of these behaviors. Encourage healthful after-school activities, and don't allow teens to attend activities without adult supervision. If a teen abuses substances, parents need to impose consequences. If a problem already has developed, seek treatment through an experienced professional. You may have to make even tougher decisions, such as turning the child in to the police.
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