Coronavirus (COVID-19) Visitor Policy & Advisory: Adventist HealthCare is taking appropriate steps to protect the safety of our patients, caregivers and community. Learn More
Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Living Well > Health Library > Helping Your Child Avoid Tobacco, Drugs, and Alcohol
The best thing parents can do to help prevent drug and alcohol use by their children is to get involved before a problem begins. Starting when your child is age 5 or 6, talk with him or her about how these substances are harmful to kids.footnote 1 Talk honestly and openly about all kinds of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol as well as other things kids may do to cope with stress in their lives. Using any kind of substance is just one way that children try to deal with things that bother them.
Focus on the positive
Explain the dangers and consequences of tobacco, drug, or alcohol use
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.
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:
Look for a peer-led prevention program in your area to help reinforce what you are teaching.
American Cancer Society (2012). Child and teen tobacco use. Available online: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/childandteentobaccouse/index.
DiFranza JR, et al. (2007). Symptoms of tobacco dependence after brief intermittent use: The development and assessment of nicotine dependence in youth-2 study. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 161(7): 704–710.
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Substance-related and addictive disorders. In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed., pp. 481–589. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Current as of: December 16, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: December 16, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.