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Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.

How to Prevent Your Child from Drinking and Drugging: Topics to Discuss With Your Children About  Alcohol and Other Drugs: Part 1

Dear Dr. Steve:

I’ve been reading recently how important it is for parents to become more active in educating their children about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs. I’ve been gathering information for the last six month to share with my fourteen year old-son. However, we’ve yet to have our first discussion. I have to admit to being a bit nervous talking to him about the subject. My husband has been absolutely no help in the matter. The few times I’ve worked up the nerve to discuss drinking and drugging with my son, he’s blown me off all three times. Clearly, we’re not getting anywhere and if it’s going to happen, it’s going to be up to me. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Your child’s unwillingness combined with your discomfort about discussing alcohol and other drugs can delay conducting the conversations that need to take place between you and your child. To insure that you have a productive meaningful conversation about alcohol and other drugs with your child take the time to prepare what you want to say before your discussion with him. Most parents sabotage themselves because their expectations of themselves are too high, they don’t know what information they want to discuss with their children, and they cram everything that they do want to say into only one conversation.

To insure that you feel confident when you sit down to talk to your son, let me suggest to you the following outline.

Learn What Your Child Already Knows About Alcohol and other Drugs
Ask your son what he knows about alcohol and other drugs. To establish a trusting rapport—solicit his opinions about why he believes teenagers drink and drug. Use this discussion as an opportunity for you to listen. Demonstrate to your son your openness to listen to his views.

Provide Important Information About Alcohol and other Drugs
It’s easy to be impatient with the know-it-all attitude that most teenagers armor themselves with. However, it’s likely that beneath the surface of bravado and bluster you’ll likely discover that your child’s fund of information about alcohol and other drugs is full of myths and misinformation. Use this as an opportunity to debunk myths and provide your son with accurate information. For instance:

1.) Alcohol is a drug that slows down the body and mind. Alcohol impairs coordination, slows reaction time, and impairs vision, clear thinking, and judgment.
2.) Beer and wine are not safer than hard liquor. A 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and 1 ounce of hard liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol. All three have the same impact on the body and mind.
3.) On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body’s system. Drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or going for a long walk does not accelerate the metabolism of alcohol.
4.) Anyone can develop a serious alcohol problem, including a teenager.

De-glamorizing Alcohol and other Drugs
The media’s glamorous portrayal of alcohol encourages many teens to believe that drinking will make them popular, attractive, happy, and cool. Research shows that teenagers who expect such positive effects are more likely to drink at early ages. You can provide a balanced portrayal by watching television, commercials, and movies with your son. Provide a more rounded picture about the impact of alcohol and other drugs than how it puts people in a great mood or helps people have a great time. Discuss how alcohol and other drugs can cause feelings of sadness, despair, and desperation rather than carefree high spirits.

Realistic Reasons Not to Use Alcohol and other Drugs
It’s tempting to scare your son into not using alcohol and other drugs. However, the effects of scare tactics tend to be short-lived and ineffectual. You need to present a balanced picture of what the consequences of drinking and drugging can be. Present to your son the following reasons that he should not drink and drug.

1.) You want your son to avoid alcohol and other drugs. Articulate clearly your expectations. Establish firmly the consequences for breaking the rules.

2.) Don’t drink and drug in order to maintain self-respect. Teenagers sense of self-respect is very important to them. They are eager to avoid behaviors that might prove embarrassing to them and might damage their self-respect and important relationships.

3.) Drinking is illegal. Emphasize potential consequences of breaking law. Examples of such consequences might be: a.) Spending time in jail, b.) Having to go to court, c.) Loss of driving privileges, d.) Prohibited from associating with friends, e.) Possible suspension from school.

4.) Drinking can be dangerous. Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of teen injuries and death. Alcohol and other drugs are often implicated in other fatal accidents such as drowning, burns, falls, and alcohol poisoning. Drinking and drugging also makes a teenager more vulnerable to sexual assault.

5.) You have a history of alcoholism. If you have a history of alcoholism and drug addiction in your family, your son may be more vulnerable to developing an alcohol and other drug problem. Your son needs to know that he would me at more risk than perhaps friends of his who do not have such a risk factor.

How to Handle Peer Pressure
It’s not enough to tell your son to avoid alcohol and other drugs. You need to provide him with the tools necessary to withstand the potential pressure of his friends.  Teach your son strategies that will enable him to remain autonomous, independent, and able to stick to his choices. Think of scenarios where your child is with his friends. Have your son practice responding to your his friends’ attempts to persuade him to drink and/or drug.

Encourage him to generate a series of responses such as: 1.) “No,” 2.) “No, let’s go to the park instead,” 3.) “No, that’s not for me.” As he creates responses that say no and/or no and offers another alternative, be sure to praise him for his choices.

Teach your son these six ways to say, “No.”

1.) No thanks.
2.) I don’t feel like it—do you have any soda?
3.) Alcohol’s not my thing.
4.) Are you talking to me? Forget it.
5.) Why do you keep pressuring me when I’ve said No?
6.) Back off!

Discussing Your History Of Drinking and Drugging
An area of discussion which makes many parents flinch is when their children ask them about their history with alcohol and other drugs. If you believe that your alcohol and other drug history should not be part of the discussion, you can simply tell your son that you choose not to share that with him. Another approach is to admit that you did do some drinking and drugging as a teenager, but that it was a mistake. You can support the assertion that it was a mistake by sharing embarrassing moments, painful consequences, and lessons learned as a result of your drinking and drugging. This can serve to reinforce that underage drinking and illicit drugging does have negative consequences.

Pathfinder’s Checklist
1.) Read Dr. Steve Frisch’s, Psy.D. series of Recovery books, From Insanity to Serenity. These books focus on chemical dependency, how to raise alcohol and other drugs free children, and Recovery for both the chemically dependent individual and their friends and family members.

2.) Read Fact Sheets about How to Raise an Alcohol and Drug-Free Child
3.) Read Fact Sheets about Information About Alcohol and Other Drugs
4.) Read the Fact Sheet, Referrals
5.) Read Fact Sheet, Warning Signs of Alcohol and Other Drugs Abuse
6.) Read Entering the World of Your Child: How to Nurture Your Child’s Spirit by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
7.) Read A Parent’s Guide for Protecting Their Children From Alcohol and Other Drugs by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
8.) Read But I’m Not The One With the Problem: How to Cope With a Loved One Who Abuses Alcohol and Other Drugs, by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.



Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series—From Insanity to Serenity.

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