Do you know the whereabouts of your teen and the kind of company he keeps? Does he fulfill his responsibilities at home and school? Are you concerned about your teen’s mood swings and his trouble with getting along with other family members? If you want to prevent your teen from being influenced by drugs and alcohol, read on.
The word used for intoxicants in the Quran is al-khamr, (to ferment) which is explained by ‘Umar (ra) to mean: “…that which befogs the mind.” (Bukhari and Muslim). Khamr, which is often used in the Qur’an to refer to alcoholic drinks, was prohibited in the time of the Prophet (saw) in Madinah, after the companions became Muslim. Surely, there is great harm in intoxicants as Allah says, “O Ye who believe! Verily, (alcoholic) intoxicants and gambling, sacrificing to stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination, of Satan’s handiwork; keep away from such, that Ye may prosper.” (Surah Al-Maaidah, verse 90)
From an early age, children need a firm Islamic foundation at home, to help prevent them from going astray or crossing boundaries. An unruly home and bad company are some of the main reasons why youths start to smoke tobacco and/or marijuana, take other drugs and consume alcohol. The Prophet (saw) said,
“The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.” (Bukhari)
Therefore, good companions will be of benefit to your child and bad companions may be your child’s downfall.
Stress at home or college and the curiosity some teens have, to try substances play a big role in why they take intoxicants too. Some parents mistakenly think, that all teens can cope with the physical and emotional changes and pressures adolescents might experience, such as, peer pressure, bodily changes and other personal insecurities, which could lead to them using substances. However, teenagers need your love and support during their adolescent years, which can reduce any negative influences of their peers and society.
Be alert to possible signs of substance abuse in your teen. If he has started staying out late, has fallen in with the wrong crowd, neglected his duties at home or school and has become depressed or argumentative with you or other family members, drugs or alcohol maybe the cause.
If you are certain your teen is using intoxicants, talk to him about it in a sensitive way and do not make your talk a ‘lecture. Describe what you have noticed (e.g. the smell of alcohol when he comes home) and express your concerns. Give him the chance to explain himself and explore the reasons why he uses intoxicants.
Remember, aside from educating him about the harm of substances, your aim is to get your child to open up to you. Try brainstorming ways to overcome the pressures or challenges he is experiencing. Also, set boundaries and give guidelines that are logically related to the issue such as, being home on time, befriending better people and the like and monitor your child’s behaviour.
Follow these tips to help your teen keep away from drugs and alcohol:
- Encourage your child to do extra-curricular activities (they enjoy). This will ensure your teen is distracted from bad influences and learns physical discipline.
- Build confidence in your child so that he will not turn to negative influences to solve his problems.
- Keep check on your teen’s friends and daily routine. Encourage him to invite his friends to your home and show interest in his hobbies. This will, insha Allah, lead to better bonding between you, prevent him from being away too often and give you more insight about what he is up to when he’s not home.
- Help your child see the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Explain the ill effects of using intoxicants and the addiction that may come with it.
- Try to establish good communications and a trusting relationship with your teen so he confides in you.
- Educate your child on the benefits of living a clean Islamic lifestyle and avoid saying judgmental things like, ‘you’re a sinner!’ or ‘what kind of Muslim are you?’
Aisha (ra) said, “If the first thing to be revealed (in the Qur’an) was: ‘Do not drink alcoholic drinks.’ people would have said, ‘We will never leave alcoholic drinks,’ and if there had been revealed, ‘Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse, ‘they would have said, ‘We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.’ (Bukhari) From this hadith, we learn that it is better to be tactile when advising others, so they will want to follow our advice and not feel judged.
Focus on the positive alternatives in your teen’s life. Praise him for his achievements and seek to boost his confidence by giving him opportunities to fulfill his potential and be positive!
*Mood swings, depression and neglect of one’s responsibilities are not necessarily signs of
substance abuse. Be sure of your child’s substance abuse before approaching him – look for
signs such as bags of drugs or the smell of alcohol on his clothes. If your child is addicted to
intoxicants, you should seek professional help.