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I’ll never forget my experience of having my first child.

During my stay in the hospital, doctors and nurses visited my room ‘round the clock making sure all my needs were met. They gave all sorts of information on breastfeeding, sleep routines and tummy time. It was great!

Once it was time to be discharged, that information came to a screeching halt. I didn’t have a “how to raise a child” manual and was ill-prepared for what was to come. I spent the next 5 years (and counting) trying to figure it out.

As parents we don’t have all the answers. When our children are young it’s nearly impossible to fathom they will ever make destructive decisions such as binge drinking or drug abuse.

The fact of the matter is that our babies grow up and we are not their only influence. However, we can be their most important influence.

Teen substance abuse has become a far too common and it’s important that parents become informed about substance abuse and what they can do to prevent this in their home.

Here are 8 mistakes to avoid that could lead to substance abuse:

Failing to set clear expectations

Before your child is a teen, let them know you will not tolerate drug and alcohol use. Teens that know their parents disapprove of drug use are 50 percent less likely to use.

Ignoring mental health issues

Listen to your child and be aware of their emotional, mental and physical needs. It’s easy to disregard your child’s complaints and deem them as typical teenage phases. 75 percent of teens cite academic stress as a leading factor to substance abuse.

Believing that experimentation is a rite of passage for teens

Remember that drugs you “experimented” with when you were teen are not what kids are abusing today. Commonly abused drugs by teens today are prescription meds, cocaine, and heroin.

Setting the wrong example

Actions speaks louder than words. If they see you irresponsibly abusing alcohol or drugs, they are more likely to mimic your behavior. As an adult drinking is not illegal but it should be done responsibly.

Lacking knowledge on the subject

Your teens are going to have questions about drugs and alcohol. If you don’t know how to respond, you will lose credibility with them. Stay informed on teen substance abuse trends and help your kids stay above the influence of drugs and alcohol

Ignoring the signs of drug use

Drug abuse in teens can often be confused with normal teen behavior. Three signs of abuse are the sudden change in friends, being secretive and a complete personality change. If you experience these signs then it’s time to intervene

Not engaging in and allowing for open, honest communication

Whoever said teenage years was the best days of your life were wrong. These are tough times for them and they face a lot of social pressure. They need to have that support from their parents. When talking to your children about substance abuse allow for open exchange and try not to be too “preachy”.

Waiting to get help

If your teen has a substance abuse problem get them help right away. Their lives may depend on it.

Need more resources? Visit our Talking To Your Kids and Get Help pages.