Whether or not the trauma of alcohol or drug addiction has touched your family in the past, it is a very real danger for your teen. Maybe it won’t be a major lure, but maybe it will: You really cannot know. Instead of hoping your teen won’t be susceptible, you need to be aggressive and proactive in taking preventive measures against all forms of substance abuse. With such dangerous and addictive substances as drugs and alcohol, you simply cannot be too cautious.
Heart issues are certainly at play, but environment and education can also come into play. As much good as the program has done, the idea of telling them to “Just Say No” is right up there with “Because I Said So.” While we want our teens to trust us, we also want them to learn to think for themselves and evaluate their decisions. We also want to keep them from overwhelming amounts of temptation.
Those with family histories of addictions or environments in which alcohol or drug use are commonplace are at a higher risk for addictions. Is that due to natural, genetic tendencies, or simply an environment of acceptance? There’s really no way to tell, but we can at least lessen the impact of a family history of addictions by modeling abstinence as parents.
Even if you generally don’t subscribe to the idea that abstinence is a biblical requirement, the principle of not providing temptation for a “weaker brother” certainly applies to being cautious regarding temptations that typically lure teens (1 Corinthians 8:13). When our sacrifice is motivated by love, it really doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all.
If you’re dedicated to modeling abstinence, your home is probably an alcohol-free environment, already. But chances are, your teen isn’t always at home. Will he or she have access to drugs or alcohol at the homes of friends? Could you prevent that exposure by creating an environment in your home that’s inviting to your teen’s friends, therefore preventing such exposure?
Perhaps access to drugs or alcohol comes through after-school activities or even a work environment. Certainly, some jobs allow for more socialization than others, and some activities are more prone to attract those who abuse substances. As your teen’s parents, you can make careful choices about the activities and influences in your teen’s life.
Even if your teen has not grown up around alcohol and drugs or had ready access to those substances, he has probably been exposed through media. Like most teens, that’s probably come in the form of entertainment. Movies, music videos, and even popular songs can portray alcohol and drugs as normal, fun, and healthy. Of course, that message is not true. As parents, we can’t afford to not address this topic. We need to reveal the dangers of substance abuse and addictions.
We need to be intentional and take these steps beyond telling them to “Just Say No.”