How Can We Prevent Addiction in Children?

Children are experimenting with, and becoming addicted to, drugs and alcohol at astounding rates, and while it can feel like a problem with no solution, there are some things we can do to help prevent our children from developing an addiction. Children are being fed messages left and right touting partying, drinking and drugs as the cool and trendy things to do. Our entertainment-driven culture and social media tell our children that celebrity, wealth and popularity are what they should aspire to, and that drugs and alcohol are part of the package. How can we prevent addiction when we’re battling such huge, influential forces?

We want to build relationships with our children based on trust and communication. We want them to feel they can talk to us about anything. We want them to feel safe that they won’t be judged or punished for having a problem. Start to make a habit of responding to all of your child’s difficulties with patience, calm and understanding. As parents, our instinct is to worry. We fear the worst outcome. We’re desperately afraid our children will get hurt. When they’re going through anything, no matter how small, we have a tendency to panic and to have intense reactions. This can scare our kids away and make them hesitant to talk to us should bigger problems arise. We can be effectively pushing our children away rather than building a connection with them.

When our children feel safe and secure talking to us about anything, they’re much more likely to come to us if they’re being pressured by friends to try drugs, of if they’ve already experimented and are afraid it will get worse. We want to be able to intervene before problems become more serious, and creating a foundation of trust can make all the difference. If a problem has already developed, our kids are more likely to reach out to us for help if they know we will respond with love and support rather than judgment and harshness.

Educate yourself about the warning signs of addiction, including demonstrating odd behavior, or losing interest in their favorite hobbies. Sudden conflicts in their friendships or issues at school can indicate an increase in stress, anxiety and depression, which can trigger and/or co-exist with addiction. Children who are developing an addiction might become more irritable, distant or hostile, reflecting a deeper problem needs to be addressed.

We treat addiction as a family disease. The treatment programs at Riverside Recovery include weekly family therapy sessions and monthly family workshops, to address addiction in our families as a whole. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.