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If you are a parent or guardian, you’ve probably done your share of worrying about your child drinking alcohol and/or using drugs.

You can do your best to limit a child’s exposure to substances, but  you can’t guarantee that your child will never have the opportunity to use drugs and alcohol. That’s why it’s so important to take the necessary steps to keep kids drug and alcohol free. Studies show that parental disapproval is the number one reason children choose not to drink alcohol. Empowered parents can trump peer pressure.

Here are 7 tips to keep kids drug & alcohol free:

1. Explain the risks

Most teens don’t understand the damage they could do to their brains and future by drinking alcohol and doing drugs. Learn the risks and explain them to your children. Check out this post about how drugs and alcohol affect the growing teenage brain.

2. Talk early and often                                              

Don’t put off the conversation because you think your child isn’t ready. Eight  isn’t too early to start an age appropriate conversation.

  • The average age of first use of alcohol is 12.9 in Texas.
  • Half of all lifetime cases of mental and substance use disorders begin by age 14.
  • The average age of first marijuana use is 13.8 years old in Texas.
  • Children who begin drinking at age 13 have a 45% chance of becoming alcohol dependent.

(Click here for more on the importance of talking to your kids about alcohol before middle school and tips for talking to them)

3. Set clear rules and be a good role model

Set clear rules about alcohol and drug use and be a good role model. That doesn’t mean that adults can’t drink—however, if adults in the household drink, explain that adults over the age of 21 are allowed to drink and should do so in moderation.

4. Know your children’s friends and their parents

Know who your child spends time with and know their family. Help your children choose friends who support their personal values and have conversations with their friend’s family about the risks of underage drinking and drug use.

5. Make alcohol and drugs unavailable

Ensure that alcohol and drugs are not available to your child when they are at home or away. Keep alcohol and any prescription pills locked up in your home.

6. Encourage conversations about concerns and questions

Make sure your children know that they can feel comfortable in talking to you about any questions or concerns they have about drugs and alcohol.

7. Give your children the tools and self-confidence to say no

Children with high refusal skills are less likely to drink underage and do drugs. Decide on good ways to say “no” and practice them often in role-play situations.