How to teach kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol

Michael Dennis, PhD Psychologist, shares advice for parents on the most effective ways of teaching your kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol
Parenting Tips | How To Teach Kids To Stay Away From Drugs & Alcohol
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How to teach kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol

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You have to coach your child to stay away from drugs early and often. There’s no magic pill, there is no book, there is no film that is going to universally reach every child and make a difference. What’s going to make a difference is that they have that connection with their parents and families; they have somebody they feel they can talk to and then ask questions. A lot of people try drugs and alcohol. Those that go on to become addicted often are suffering from some other kind of trauma – could be physical, sexual or emotional, could also be trauma from a loss of a loved one – a parent, a brother, a sister, a child. So using is not the same as having an addiction – that’s something worse. And if you can catch it at the using phase, you have a better shot of making a difference and stopping it. Parents, when they’re talking to their kids, once they’re out and about and in trouble, you’re in a very different situation. So starting early when they’re younger, having time at the dinner table, making time to do things with your kids, to talk to them and have conversations sets you up to continue that at junior high school and high school when the risks really start getting much more severe. Having that link whether it’s probably the single most important thing, because they’re less likely to respond to messages about the long-term consequences than they are to what you want them to do to either trust of you and to trying to please you.

Michael Dennis, PhD Psychologist, shares advice for parents on the most effective ways of teaching your kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol

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Michael Dennis, PhD

Psychologist

Michael Dennis, PhD, is a senior research psychologist and Director of the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center at Chestnut Health Systems in Normal, Illinois. Over the past 25 years his primary area of research has been to better understand and manage addiction and recovery over the life course. This includes multiple clinical trials to compare the effectiveness of adolescent treatment approaches and recovery support services, longitudinal studies with adolescents, adults and older adults to understand the predictors of entering and sustaining recovery, and creating the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center for teaching evidenced based assessment to support clinical decision making at the individual level and program evaluation. He has multiple awards for moving the field from science to practice, promoting diversity through practice based evidence and bringing more people into the field.

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