Chapter 1

You're Not Alone!

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If you are a parent or caregiver of a teenager visiting this website, chances are you’ve been in a similar situation to Debbie's Mother in the clip above. Regardless of culture, parents can be frustrated with changes they may see in their child as he or she grows into the teenage years. One concern is whether their child is beginning to use drugs.

If your child is not a teenager, you may consider looking into the future for strategies that help you deal with this behavior when it arises.

Like a lot of parents, Debbie's mother was reluctant to share difficult parenting experiences because she was fearful of being judged. However, parents who find it difficult to share their concerns may miss out on opportunities to get support from other parents facing similar situations.

Feelings of concern, frustration, anxiety, self blame, anger and even despair are common when raising teenagers. Parents' confusion over sudden behavioral changes of their teenage child are quite normal.

Is it just me, or does everybody feel this way?

Is there a way out?

This website aims to offer you, wherever you are, ways to prevent drug use (including alcohol and tobacco) by your children. A major focus is the use of clear, positive communication between you and your children.

The chapters focus on issues linked to youth drug use, including:

Strengthen your efforts to raise a healthy child by trying to help to prevent their involvement with drugs.

We have tried to offer the information in a way that speaks to parents of all cultures. If we have fallen short of this goal, we apologize. But we invite everyone to think about what we have to say and to consider our suggestions and approaches to help you raise a child that will thrive and avoid the harm that drugs can cause.

What is the age of your children?

  • Age 1 to 10: Your child is probably too young to be involved with alcohol and other drugs yet. Our website will help you to be a prevention-smart parent.

  • Age 11 to 15: Your child is in the years when drug experimentation or use may begin. We will help you become a prevention-smart parent. If your child is already experimenting with or is beginning to use drugs, we have a chapter for you.

  • Age 16 and older: Some teens in this group may experiment with or use drugs. We will help you to be a prevention-smart parent. If your child is experimenting or using, Chapter 10: What To Do If My Teenager Is Using Drugs may help.

The Words We Use

What does drug prevention mean?

There are several words we use throughout the chapters. Here is a list of terms and how they are defined:

Drug prevention means: efforts to help avoid the illegal, inappropriate, unhealthy, harmful use of drugs.

Your Concerns

What are the things that concern you most about your children’s behaviour – either now or as you face the future? Make a list.

Ask a trusted friend or relative the same question and compare your lists. Are you alone? Or do all of us have real concerns about what our children do and the way they behave?


You have now completed the 1st chapter of prevention-smart parents.

This short chapter tried to help you realize that you are not alone when facing the problems… and the joys… of your children growing up. Even concern about your children’s use of drugs is very normal.

But remember – Don’t Panic – the majority of young people do not abuse or become dependent on drugs!

What is important is that we try to become prevention-smart and discover how we can improve our communications with our children. We should do what we can to make it less likely that they get involved with drugs. Remember that parents and carers are human too and we can only do so much – but we should try our best as part of our responsibilities as a parent.

The rest of the chapters aim to help you with this so that you can be better equipped to be prevention-smart.

Remember: You are not alone!

Well Done!

You are now at the end of our brief introduction to prevention-smart parents. Please fill out the chapter evaluation questionnaire and proceed to Chapter 2: Why do teenagers act the way they do?, or feel free to skip ahead to any of the other chapters listed on the right.