Prevention Tips for Parents 

How do you really keep your kids safe from addiction? 

From the moment our children are born, keeping them safe is second nature: we hold them close as they get their first shots, teach them to look both ways before crossing the street, and help them develop healthy habits that will nurture them throughout their lives. We hear very little, though, during the critical early years about how to protect our kids from the disease of addiction, despite the fact that addiction tends to begin in childhood.


90% of Americans with a substance use disorder began using substances before the age of 18.1  

Addiction is a complex disease and there are many factors that contribute to a person’s overall level of risk. There are some risk factors for addiction that we cannot change—genetics, for example—but there are other critical ones—like delaying the age of first use and limiting access to substances—that we can impact. 

This toolkit translates the science of prevention into ten evidence-based strategies parents can implement now, to build a strong foundation of health and wellness to help guide our children throughout their lives.

10 Things Parents Can Do to Keep Their Kids Safe from Addiction

 10 Things Parents Can Do                                 
  • Talk early and often.          
  • Support healthy activities.
  • Set clear expectations of no use.
  • Establish clear consequences.
  • It’s not your job to be cool.
  • Do not provide alcohol or drugs to your teens.
  • Pay attention.
  • Make time for your child.
  • Prioritize sleep.
  • Intervene early.




1. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. (2011, June). Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem. Retrieved from https://

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How Do You Really Keep Kids Safe from Addiction?

The Disease Model of Addiction

Risk and Protective Factors


Further Reading 



Addiction Resource Center

The Addiction Resource Center (ARC) provides tools to help patients and families in crisis, including information about finding treatment, how to help a loved one engage in treatment, how to talk to a doctor, and getting an assessment. Visitors can find nearby treatment providers by searching the comprehensive database or calling the ARC line at 1-833-301-HELP (4357) for free, confidential support.

American Academy of Pediatrics

The AAP is committed to the optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. 

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)

CADCA represents over 5,000 community-based coalitions across the United States and in 22 countries working to create safe, healthy, and drug-free communities.  

Don’t Let Your Meds Fall into the Wrong Hands

Many first time encounters with opioids happen with leftover prescription medications. Learn about medication safety and the ways to safely dispose of your old or unused medications.

Family Resource Center

Find videos, articles, books and other resources in this searchable portal to empower families to understand and address a child’s substance use.

Poison Control

Call 1-800-222-1222 for free help from an expert.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Check out these resources to help parents start—and keep up—the conversation about the dangers of underage drinking.

Together, we can solve this. Join us!