Is Drug Prevention Different for Teens and Adults?

Teenager And Adult Male

Adolescence is frequently a time of drug and alcohol experimentation in America. For this and other reasons, it also represents a crucial time for preventing drug and alcohol use. If you have children, you may wonder if the ways to prevent drug abuse among teenagers differ from the ways to prevent drug abuse among adults. The answer is yes; age has a significant impact on the methods used to prevent involvement in substance intake.

Drug Prevention for Teenagers

Parents have a range of options for helping their teenage children stay clear of drug use. Perhaps one of the most important ways to prevent drug abuse among teenagers is to maintain an active, but non-intrusive, line of communication with your adolescent children. Likely discussion topics in an effective line of parent/child communication include:

  • The dangers of prescription medications (often mistakenly viewed as “safe” because they come from doctors)
  • Family rules regarding drug and alcohol intake
  • The social pressures that favor substance intake over abstinence, and
  • Development of the coping skills needed to endure peer pressure, academic pressure and other forces that may induce involvement in drug use

Another practical prevention tip that often gets overlooked is making sure to keep your home free of outdated prescription medications. In addition, there are a broad range of programs that focus on preventing teen drug and alcohol abuse. Some of these programs target teenagers as a whole, while others focus specifically on those groups of teens considered to have higher risks for getting involved in substance use.

Drug Prevention for Adults

Drug prevention for adults takes place in a different context than for teenagers. In many cases, prevention efforts are workplace-based and focus on employee wellness. Available options for adults include:

  • Programs that alert employees to the dangers of drug and alcohol use
  • Provision of counseling that aims to prevent the use/misuse of illegal drugs and prescription medications, and
  • Provision of health benefits that cover any drug treatment required for cases of substance abuse

Teenagers are far more likely to begin using drugs than adults, especially adults over the age of 25. For this reason, prevention and other treatment efforts typically focus more on teenagers than on adults.   Sources National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence: Ten Tips for Prevention for Youth National Institute on Drug Abuse: Preventing Drug Abuse – The Best Strategy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Preventing Drug Abuse and Excessive Alcohol Use  

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