Make sure to educate and discuss drinking, drugs, and depression with your child, as part of their general health education. There are brochures, books, and videos available. If your child does have depression or alcohol/drug abuse problem, tell them it can happen to anyone, there's no shame, and you will help them get better.
Discuss myths with your child like "all or most teens drink or use drugs"; "drinking and drugging is part of growing up"; "I drive better when I smoke weed."
Open up Communication
Talk to your child regularly during unscheduled and scheduled times. Know who your child's friends are, where they go, what they are interested in and why. Ask your child questions and invite them to talk. If you are having trouble talking with your child, ask for someone to facilitate your discussion (e.g., a counselor, a friend, a pastor).
For depression, the most important questions to ask your child are: 1) Have you lost interest or pleasure in doing things? 2) Are you feeling depressed, down, empty, or irritable a lot of the time? 3) Are you feeling suicidal or like you would be better off dead? * Visit www.familyaware.org
Make sure to have open conversations not associated with arguments. Make sure to reward, praise, and model successes and good behaviors.
Trust your Gut
You know your child well, so trust your gut if you sense something is wrong. Ask your child about your concerns. If needed check their room, call their doctor. Sometimes drug testing can be helpful to get a child help or preventing a substance abuse problem from developing.
Set Rules and Limits and Consequences
Establish what the rules are (e.g., no drinking), and what the consequences are if the child breaks the rules (e.g., lose internet privileges).
Limit Access to Alcohol, Drugs and Weapons
Remove all guns and other weapons, alcohol, and prescription drugs or at least lock them up. You may not think your child would steal alcohol or take prescription drugs, but they may be encouraged to do so by their peers or their friends visiting your house may do so.
Get Support for you and your child
Both you and your child need social support from people who can listen to you talk about your difficulties and help you not feel alone. Find support from school groups, counselors, support groups, your religious organization, teen centers.
Get an Evaluation or Treatment
If you suspect there is an alcohol, drug, or depression problem, get an evaluation from a counselor or mental health clinician. Ask for a substance abuse evaluation, and screening for anxiety and depressive disorders. Click on "Finding Help" at www.projectinterface.org.
* It is Ok to ask your child if they are feeling suicidal, you will not cause them to take their life. If they answer yes, get immediate medical help. Call your doctor, or if necessary call 911 or go to your local hospital emergency room.