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Helping Your Child Avoid Tobacco, Drugs, and Alcohol - Topic Overview


Talk with your child about the dangers of misusing prescription medicines, such as using ADHD medicines to concentrate better or stay up later to study. Misusing these medicines can cause heart problems and psychological effects such as anxiety, mood swings, paranoia, seeing or hearing things that are not present (hallucinations), and believing things that are not true (delusions). If your child takes these medicines for ADHD, talk with him or her about using them as prescribed and never giving or selling them to other children.

Be aware that some adolescents and teens try to get a rush by cutting off oxygen to the brain, such as through choking or strangling each other. Talk to your child about these dangerous behaviors. Explain that they can result in lifelong problems or even death.

Peer pressure

Many adolescents feel pressured to use alcohol or drugs because some of their friends are using them. Here are some tips to teach your child on how to deal with peer pressure.

Encourage your child to:

  • Hang out with people who do not use drugs or alcohol. Then, if your child is asked to use drugs, he or she can take a stand and walk away, knowing that there is support from the group.
  • Skip parties where your child knows drugs or alcohol will be present.
  • Practice or role-play things to say to friends who might try to get your child to use drugs or alcohol. This helps your child consider in advance what might happen and think about ways to say "no." Practice responses, such as:
    • "No, thanks. I've got too much to do today."
    • "I'll just end up embarrassing myself."
    • "I've got to stay clean for basketball practice."
    • "My parents told me that they would ground me for 3 weeks if I use, and I don't want to take the chance of missing my friend's party."
  • Get involved in drug-free activities. Talk about ways to ask friends to join too.
  • Call you for a ride if he or she is in trouble or feels pressured by others to use drugs or alcohol. Let your child know that you want to help no matter what the situation is.

Look for a peer-led prevention program in your area to help reinforce what you are teaching.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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