Summer is over, and school is back in session! Some teens hop out of bed early and rush off to their first day while others dig in their heels trying to soak up every last bit of freedom before returning to schedules, classrooms, and homework. But with whatever approach your teen takes, one thing is for sure, the beginning of school means the beginning of regular, daily interaction with peers in what can sometimes be a stressful environment. While this can be a good thing, it can also mean more access to alcohol and other drugs as well as possible pressure to drink and/or use drugs.

So what can parents do to help their teens make good decisions about drugs and alcohol this school year? Focus on helping them incorporate healthy assets into their lives that will naturally discourage chemical use. Here are some ideas:

  1. Encourage positive connections and allow quality time with non-parent adults in the community or neighborhood.
  2. Help your teen make time for volunteering or helping others on a weekly or monthly basis.
  3. Implement required reading time. Anything except school work can be read during this time. Aim for 25 minutes every day.
  4. Support your teen in thinking ahead (planning!). Help them practice this each day.
  5. Help your teen choose an ongoing, organized activity they want to be involved in. This can be through school, church, or the community and does not have to be a sport. For example, The Lakes Center for Youth and Families has a Youth Advisory Board for teens in grades 7-12! Call for information.

Encouraging your teen to get involved in the community helps build their connectedness to people and begins to develop a feeling of responsibility for the place they live. Volunteering and participation in organized activities help teens feel a sense of purpose and contribution; stress is reduced and spare time is filled through these things as well. Reading sparks interest in things, reduces stress, assists in learning and has been shown to increase school performance in all areas. But most importantly, all these things together, can help reduce the likelihood that a teen will choose to use chemicals. Shift the focus from what teens can’t do, to what they can do.   


For more information, contact Sarah Curtis at Lakes Center for Youth and Families at 651-464-3685 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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