It’s that time of year again; prom and graduation season is officially underway! This time of year is marked by a lot of celebrations and parties. Unfortunately, this can also be a common time of year for teens to use harmful substances, like alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and other drugs.

As members of the community, we have a shared responsibility to offer healthy environments for our teens, whose brains and bodies are still developing. It’s up to us to provide them with the best opportunities to succeed and lead healthy, happy lives. Unfortunately, substance use can get in the way of this. Even occasional use of alcohol and other drugs comes with immediate risks, like increasing the chances of unsafe driving or unhealthy relationships. Fortunately, together we can prevent our teens from using harmful substances. 

Here are 5 Strategies that our community can do to prevent problems and keep our kids safe during prom and graduation season, and all year long.

1. Provide Safe & Fun Substance Free Events for Teens

Pre or Post Prom and Graduation parties are a great opportunity for teens to have fun in a safe environment. These substance-free events provide free food, prizes and activities. Local businesses can get involved by providing funding for these events.

2. Offer Educational Events or Materials for Parents/Guardians

Schools or local community organizations can offer events for parents/guardians to learn more about the Social Host Law and legal liability around underage drinking, along with proven strategies to prevent youth from using alcohol and other drugs.

3. Talk to the teens in your life

As parents/guardians, we can have a huge impact on our teen’s decisions. By talking with our kids, early and often, and setting clear expectations, we can reduce the likelihood that they will use harmful substances, like alcohol. Before your teen attends a party, discuss the details of the party with them and talk with them about how to handle situations that may arise with alcohol and other drugs. It’s also important to let your kids know that they can always call you, no matter the situation in which they find themselves. Learn more about to how to deal with your teen and parties.   

4. Limit Access to Harmful Substances, like alcohol, marijuana and tobacco

Whether you are a parent/guardian, grandparent, friend or just hosting a party where young people will be, it’s important to lock up and monitor any alcohol and drugs in your home. It may be tempting to let teens drink at home during this time of year. However, not only is it illegal to allow minors to drink in your home, but it also impacts adolescent brain development and puts them at risk for other negative consequences. Read more about the negative consequences of underage drinking.

5. Challenge Cultural Norms and Be a Role Model to Youth in the Community

As caring members of the community, we can challenge cultural norms that glamorize and promote alcohol use as a ‘rite of passage.’ Instead, we can model responsible behavior and demonstrate to youth that there are ways to have fun without the use of substances.

Want to get more involved in preventing youth substance use in your community? Find out how

Want to learn more? Read Under the Right Influence- A Guide for Parents During Prom & Graduation Season