Having an open caring relationship with an adult role model is a critical piece of preventing drug abuse in children.
Parents and primary care givers have a critical role in preventing children’s in involvement with drugs and alcohol. It is a virtual dead certainty that your child will come in contact with drugs and alcohol sooner rather than later. How they handle it can be largely determined by parental involvement and preparation. Please do not ignore this problem and hope it will simply go away. Here is why.
Some facts on child drug use. (Office of National Drug Control Policy)
o The single leading cause of death among youth is driving under the influence.
o The second leading cause is suicide. Drugs are present 60% of the time.
o The average age of first use of alcohol is 11 years old.
o Of children who use alcohol or drugs before age 15, 40% are later classified with an addiction.
No parent wants to see their child involved with drugs. The likelihood of a child associating with drug-using friends is reduced by a close relationship with their parents There are some specific steps you can take to help your child be properly prepared to meet the challenge of drugs and alcohol. Here they are:
1. Give clear messages and expectations that using drugs is not OK. Don’t assume your child knows your views, state them and make them clear as a bell.
2. Be a good, active listener. Be alert to both spoken and implied messages when you or your child is speaking about drugs. Have discussions not arguments.
3. Help with your child deal with peer pressure to use drugs. Review possible scenarios or listen to what has happened. Work out the possibilities both the pros and the cons of the situation as well as expected or potential outcomes. Help to plan appropriate actions and empower your child to act.
4. Get familiar with your child’s friends and parents. Meeting your children’s friends will give you a sense of their personalities, what they are “into”,” and their family situations. Don’t be too quick to judge a child’s friends, though. Radical styles and unconventional appearances may be nothing more than a badge of identity.
5. Know your child’s whereabouts. Children who had the least amount of monitoring or ‘latchkey’ kids are at greater risk of drug use and at earlier ages. Check up on your child’s whereabouts.
6. Supervise activities. Unsupervised parties or activities are an open invitation to drug use.
7. Have open, honest and sincere conversations with your child about using drugs and alcohol and the consequences.
These tips are just the tip of the iceberg on proactive steps you can take as parents in protecting and preparing your child for exposure to drugs and alcohol use. More information and resources are freely available.