Parents Play Important Role in Preventing Substance Use among Teens

Now that school is out and summer has officially begun, young people are enjoying some free time.  Most young people are making the choice not to engage in risky behaviors including using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.   Parents play an important role in their teen’s decisions to avoid substances.

In the May 8, 2019 issue of the Know! Parent Newsletter, Dr. Joseph Lee, addiction specialist and medical director of the Hazelden Center for Youth and Family, stated that parents are the first line of defense in the prevention and intervention of underage drinking and other substance misuse.  But, often parents feel that their teens aren’t listening to them.  According to local Social Norms surveys conducted every two years of middle and high school students in the Merrill and Tomahawk School Districts, parents have been consistently ranked as one of the top four sources of believable information about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs by middle and high school youth.

Talking with your teen can help them make good choices, but it can be difficult to get the conversation started and you may not be sure what to say or how to say it.  Here are few resources to help you get started or in continuing these important conversations:

  • Parents and caregivers can sign up for Know!, a free resource available through the Prevention Action Alliance. Know! gives parents and caregivers of middle school-age kids the education, strategies, and empowerment they need to raise children who are healthy as well as alcohol, tobacco, and drug-free. When parents sign up for Know! they will receive emails twice a month about substance abuse, mental health, bullying, self-esteem, peer pressure, social media and other relevant or emerging topics.    To sign up for Know! or to get more information, visit: .
  • The National Institute Drug Abuse has developed a website called Easy-to-Read Drug Facts.   You will find information about the various drugs that people use or misuse, how drugs can affect a person’s life, information about substance use disorders, treatment and recovery, and how to help people from using drugs before they start. This free website can be found at
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has developed a series of publications called “Tips for Teens”. Each publication is a fact sheet about a substance written for teens with factual information about that substance.  This series of publications is available free to download by visiting
  • Another great resource to help parents understand the development that is occurring in the adolescent brain which influences the way your teen acts, is by the Partnership for Drug Free Kids. This free website can be found at

By educating yourself, talking early and often, sharing factual information, setting clear expectations and monitoring your children’s activities, parents can continue to influence a teen’s decision to avoid risky behaviors such as substance use.   These resources are also available by visiting the UW-Madison Division of Extension office located in the lower level of the Lincoln County Service Center at 801 N Sales Street in Merrill.

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