Parenting for Prevention
Every day it seems that we hear about kids using a new drug with names like K2 or Spice (synthetic marijuana) or Bath Salts, a synthetic, stimulant powder product that contains amphetamine-like chemicals, and runs a high risk for overdose. Although the drugs change over time, alcohol is still the most widely used substance among teens in America, followed by tobacco, marijuana and another dangerous trend: the non-medical use of prescription drugs.
While ongoing news on drug trends may be discouraging, take heart information is power. Two-thirds of kids share that losing their parents’ respect and pride is one of the main reasons they don’t smoke marijuana or use other drugs. Parental influence is one of the most powerful protective factors in preventing youth substance use … that’s the good news and parents need to understand that communication, and choices and consequences are all effective strategies for building strong relationships with their children. Even with all the conflicting information, we know that informed, involved parents are able to guide good choices and promote healthy behaviors in their children.
Yes, parenting does get more challenging when kids reach adolescence. Teens naturally push limits, test boundaries, and make choices that baffle and worry parents. They begin to look more mature and grown up, so it’s easy to be fooled into thinking they will behave like adults. This isn’t the case. Their bodies may look the part however their brains are still developing and will continue to do so through age 25. As a result, decision making will be erratic, immature, and inconsistent. Adolescent brain development is especially important to understand because when youth are exposed to choices about alcohol and drugs many will experience peer pressure and confusion; if not countered by facts and parental expectations, high-risk choices may be the outcome. When parents clearly communicate the risks and consequences of underage drinking and substance use, express disapproval and set limits and boundaries, consistently apply consequences, monitor activities, and offer alternatives for meaningful activities, research on the national and local level point to significantly lower rates of use and what we all want: drug-free youth.
Of all the dangers your teen faces, underage drinking and drug use is among the most dangerous. Whether teens are experimenting with bath salts, beer, or misusing prescription drugs all present a serious and potentially lethal threat.
Remember, silence isn’t golden, it’s permission. Your words and actions DO matter. If you have information about parties where alcohol or drugs may be made available for youth use, you can anonymously report it by simply texting the keyword HOLLY, plus Your Tip to 847411 – your preventative action just may save a call to 9-1-1. For more information on building protective factors to promote resiliency and reduce the risks associated with illegal drug use, visit the Holly Area Community Coalition website at www.hollycommunitycoalition.com.