SAFE Choices: Resources For Parents, Guardians, and Caretakers of Youth

Youth prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery resources for parents, guardians, and caregivers, including those of young children and teens.

SAFE Choices, in a collaborative approach, is committed to providing valuable connections and resources to parents, guardians, and caregivers of youth, aiming together for the transformation of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that empower SAFE Choices in all stages of youth development.

Helpful Tips For Adults

  • Adults are a leading Protective Factor.
  • Be as informed as possible.
  • Spend quality time together. Quality time has a long-lasting impact! Youth spell LOVE as TIME!
  • Talk often and openly.
  • Nurture a positive self-view and sense of self-worth.
  • Cultivate positive thinking and maintain a hopeful outlook.
  • Identify goals and prioritize steadfast focus.
  • Foster resiliency and skills to cope, control, and persevere.
  • Provide positive and encouraging guidance.
  • Model values and character development.
  • Support healthy social connections.

Making the Choice

SAFE Choices is committed to providing valuable connections and resources to parents, guardians and caregivers. Together working to empower youth towards healthy choices and reaching their fullest potential.

Expand each section below for dedicated resources for that respective topic.

It’s never too early to start the conversation. Discussions about alcohol and other drugs are ongoing conversations that can begin as early as preschool years and continue throughout the teen and young adulthood years. As youth grow, your conversations may change, but they always will be centered on keeping them happy, healthy, and safe. Talk early, talk often, and take advantage of teachable moments. As a parent, guardian, and caretaker, you are a role model for your kids: your views can strongly affect how they think and choices they make.

Did you know that the human brain is still developing until about age 25? Have you ever asked your child “what were you thinking” and they say “I don’t know”? Chances are they weren’t lying. Teens are more likely to take risks and have impulsive behaviors because essential parts of the teenage brain are still forming, affecting the ability to make logical decisions. Developing brains are more prone to damage. As a result, teens become addicted more quickly with greater consequences (9 out of 10 people with substance problems started using by age 18; Center on Addiction, 2018). Every year substance use is delayed during adolescent brain development, the risk of addiction and substance abuse decreases 4 to 5 percent (SAMHSA, 2015). Youth who begin using addictive substances (tobacco, alcohol, illegal, over-the-counter or prescription drugs) before age 15 are nearly seven times more likely to develop a substance problem, compared with those who delay first use until age 21 or older (Center on Addiction, 2018). As a parent, guardian, and caretaker, you are a role model for your kids. Your views can strongly affect how they think and choices they make. Talk Early and talk often.

If they don’t get the facts from you, they will get their information from another source. Children today are exposed to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs at increasingly younger ages. The media is filled with images that promote smoking and drinking as “cool,” fun, and a natural part of life. That’s why, more than ever, parents need to talk to their kids about the risks of drugs and help them separate fact from fiction. Research shows that children who hear the facts about drugs and alcohol from their parents are significantly less likely to use them. As a parent, guardian, and caretaker, you are a role model for your kids. Your views AND accurate facts on the topic can strongly affect how they think and choices they make.

What do you do if you suspect substance misuse? When it comes to the safety and well being of your child, you can never be too safe or intervene too early. Talk to your child as soon as your instinct tells you something is wrong or you notice signs of possible substance use. Express your concern and willingness to help. Seek the support of a professional, a family doctor, or addiction specialist who can screen for signs of drug misuse and other related health conditions. Many school districts also have student assistance teams that consist of trained professionals who are able to offer intervention support. A tough at it may be, showing unconditional steadfast love and genuine compassion will serve well in this fragile scenario.

For all medical emergencies: Call 911


The internet is packed with sites and information on the topic of substance use prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery. To assist you in being confident you are accessing reliable sources, this list is being provided as a means to assist you in your research (note: this is not meant to be a comprehensive listing).



The following are powerful stories of hope shared from the heart of individuals impacted by the disease of addiction. These are stories about transformations and new beginnings, stories about real people who work every day for restoration, and who are committed to stopping the cycle of addiction one step at a time. To the families and individuals who chose to share, we at SAFE Project offer our genuine appreciation to you for the choice you made to speak out from your heart in an effort to help others. If you or someone you know has been impacted by addiction and have a story you would like to share, please reach out to:

With over 300 accidental overdoses per day, this problem is larger than any one person, organization, or community. SAFE Solutions is a free wiki-based platform that serves as a one-stop-shop for community leaders to easily find a collection of research, educational materials, resources, and promising practices to support your strategic response efforts.

Additional Resources & Assistance

For more information about SAFE Choices, contact
Senior Director Ronna Yablonski at: