Right about now, high school students across Connecticut are falling into the routine of homework, sports, and friends. But parents need to ask themselves if their children are also falling into drug and alcohol addiction. The Governor’s Prevention Partnership (The Partnership), as advocates for drug-free children, is urging parents to talk to their kids during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in October.
“Now is the time for parents to have a heart-to-heart with their children to see how they are adjusting to the new school year,” advises Jill Spineti, President & CEO of The Governor’s Prevention Partnership.“Adolescents face an enormous amount of stress and peer pressure that many find overwhelming. It’s important to take a proactive approach in talking to your kids about substance abuse to identify any issues early on and prevent potential detrimental situations later in their lives.”
Spineti shares tips from the U.S. Department of Education Safe & Drug-Free Schools Program. Growing Up Drug Free: A Parent’s Guide to Prevention:
- Acknowledge the social and academic demands that your teen may be experiencing. Discuss positive ways to deal with each one instead of using alcohol or drugs as an escape.
- Get to know your children’s friends, where they hang out, and what they like to do. You’ll feel in closer touch with your child’s daily life and be in a better position to recognize trouble spots. A child whose friends are using drugs is very likely to be using them too.
- Praise and encourage teens for all the things they do well and for the positive choices they make. Knowing they are seen and appreciated by the adults in their lives is highly motivating and can shore up their commitments to avoid drug use.
- To resist peer pressure, teens need more than a general message not to use drugs. Teens need to be warned of the potentially deadly effects of combining drugs. They need to hear a parent’s assertion that anyone can become a chronic user or an addict and that even non-addicted use can have serious permanent consequences.
- Because most high school students are future oriented, they are more likely to listen to discussions of how drugs can ruin chances of getting into a good college, being accepted by the military, or being hired for certain jobs.
“Older teens have already had to make decisions many times about whether to try drugs or not,” said Spineti. “Today’s teens are savvy about drug use, making distinctions not only among different drugs and their effects, but also among occasional use and addiction. However, their parents still profoundly shape the choices they make about drugs.”
To get the conversation started, Spineti suggests parents and teens view the new “Fried Egg 2016” TV public service announcement on YouTube that debuted in August. It is based on the iconic TV spot from the 1980s, but is re-envisioned to reflect parenting today and the change in perceptions and awareness about drug use. The new campaign focuses on the litany of drug questions that parents face from their teens, and it also shows how The Partnership has evolved to meet the needs of families.
“Given the complexities that surround substance abuse today, including legalization of marijuana, prescription medicine abuse and heroin, coupled with the daily, tragic headlines on overdose deaths, kids today have very specific questions they ask of their parents,” said Spineti.
To ensure that families have a place to turn to get answers for those questions, The Partnership has an abundance of parental resources listed on their website at www.preventionworksct.org/resources/parent_resource.
The Partnership encourages everyone to eliminate access to addictive substances by disposing of unused medications on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 22, 2016. Special collection sites will be set up across Connecticut to provide safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing unwanted prescription drugs.
Additionally, many local Connecticut police departments have installed permanent, secure medication drop boxes in their lobby so residents can drop off unused prescription medication any time anonymously. There are currently 60 collection box locations. For a full list, visit http://www.ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?a=1620&q=501922.
“Prescription drug abuse is on the increase among high school students in Connecticut,” adds Spineti. “And since 4 out of 5 heroin users first started by using pain relievers taken from families and friends, cleaning out the medicine cabinet is essential to keeping kids healthy and avoid the path of addiction and self-destruction.”
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