Help Teens say No to Drugs and Alcohol with These 10 Practical Refusal Strategies | Deborah Farmer Kris | 3 Min Read

The majority of adults who develop substance abuse disorders had their first drink during adolescence. If we can help kids delay substance use, they will be less likely to struggle with substance abuse

In her new book “The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence,” Jessica Lahey translates the research around addiction and explores practical ways parents and educators can use this information to support kids.

Among her many findings is this: our kids need practical refusal skills — simple scripts and mental models they can draw on when they encounter peer pressure. After all, one of the strongest predictors of substance use in teens is peer use. In other words, if your child is around kids who drink and do drugs, they are more likely to drink and do drugs. And since you probably won’t be there at the moment they are first offered a drink, we need to equip them with strategies in advance. 

Here are 10 (of the many) concrete ideas Lahey shares in her book.


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Deborah Farmer Kris

A writer, teacher, parent, and child development expert, Deborah Farmer Kris writes regularly for PBS KIDS for Parents and NPR’s MindShift; her work has been featured several times in The Washington Post; and she is the author of the All the Time picture book series (coming out in 2022) focused on social-emotional growth. A popular speaker, Deborah has a B.A. in English, a B.S. in Education, and an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology. Mostly, she loves finding and sharing nuggets of practical wisdom that can help kids and families thrive — including her own. You can follow her on Twitter @dfkris, contact her at [email protected], or visit her website: Parenthood365 (