With the new school year comes new experiences, environments, friends, and at times new challenges. The new school season also presents challenges in our collective efforts to keep young people healthy and drug free. No matter the situation or the student’s age, it is important that parents, friends, teachers, counselors, and community members discuss the dangers of drug abuse and underage drinking and watch for warning signs.
The end of summer is great time to make sure the lines of communication are open when it comes to issues like alcohol and drug use. Studies show that the greatest deterrent of underage drinking and drug use is parental involvement. Parents who have discussions with their teens about drugs and alcohol, who monitor their teens’ whereabouts and who are involved in their lives will reduce or postpone underage drinking and drug use. Teens feel connected because their parents listen to them and take time to find out what’s going on in their world. Teens who are close to their parents or a trusted adult caregiver have more at stake when it comes to decisions about risk-taking. At that moment of truth when they are confronted with a risky choice, they don’t want to disappoint their parents or betray their trust. They are also more open to their parents’ advice.
Below are some simple steps you can take to keep track of your child, and keep them safe, alcohol and drug free.
–Clearly communicate the risks of drug/alcohol use.
–Let your kids know you disapprove of any drug/alcohol use.
–Use “teachable moments” to raise drug/alcohol issues.
–Establish clear rules and expectations for non-use and make sure those rules are communicated consistently.
–Frequently talk and listen to your kids about how things are going in their lives.
–Know where your children are and who they are with.
–Keep any alcohol and medications locked up and/or hard to find: monitor –quantities and control access.
–Be a good role model and make your home a positive place to be!
Submitted by Kathy Sullivan