Prevention tips for your high school-aged adolescent

Some suggestions on how to prevent alcohol and other drug use.

Send clear messages

  • Set clear rules about not using alcohol other drugs or misusing prescriptions and be explicit about the dangers of their use
  • As young people go through their teenage years, they often challenge authority. That is why it is important to be consistent in providing consequences for breaking the rules. For example, some parents choose to identify specific privileges that could be taken away if a rule is broken.
  • Explain why these rules are important and that they exist because you care about them
  • Make it clear that alcohol or other drug use can get in the way of your child’s goals and dreams
  • Support the steps they take toward earning and keeping your trust
  • Reward them when they make good choices

Stay involved

  • When your adolescent goes out, make sure you know the “who, what, where, and when”
  • In high school, adolescents need to gain their sense of independence by making some of their own decisions. You can help them by offering ideas for healthy activities.

Watch the wheels

Parental monitoring is especially important when your child begins driving.

  • Alcohol and many drugs impair judgment, which is critical when safely operating a motor vehicle
  • Individuals who drive under the influence could put themselves and their friends at risk of serious injury or death
  • Creating a “driving contract” reduces the likelihood that your child will drive under the influence or ride with someone who has been using. The contract should outline your expectations that your child will not use alcohol or other drugs and will not ride with someone who has been using alcohol or other drugs. And if they violate the contract, they’ll lose their driving and/or other privileges for a set period of time.

Questions about your own use

  • Your children look up to you and may copy your behavior. That is why it is important that you are thoughtful about what they hear you say or see you do.
  • When your child asks questions about your own alcohol, or other drug use, sharing details may be harmful. Research suggests that when you describe your past drug use to your child, you may be undercutting your message that they should not use.
  • Keep the focus on your children, and your concern for them

If you are concerned about your own use of alcohol or other drugs, visit the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline’s website for more information or a referral to treatment in your area.

Seeking help for your high school-aged adolescent

If you are concerned about your child’s use of alcohol, other drugs, or misuse of prescriptions the Department’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS) can help.

For free and confidential information and referral services for youth and young adults (up to age 24) who are experiencing a problem with one of these substances, contact the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline at or 1-800-327-5050.

Your health insurance provider can also inform you of services.

Thanks for helping to keep our youth healthy.

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