Parents

Talk to Your Teen

Statistics show that when parents talk to their kids about alcohol or drugs, they are 42% less likely to try them–and more likely to succeed in every way. You have more influence on your child’s values about drinking and drugs before he or she begins to use them–especially during the preteen and early teen years. That’s why it’s important to arm yourself with information and tools to help your children avoid the dangers of alcohol and drugs now.

Be Aware

It’s also important to be aware of your child’s plans and whereabouts. It’s a simple way to let them know you care about them, what they’re doing, and who their friends are. It’s not about trusting them. Let them know you care, even if you can’t be together.

*Jackson, C. Perceived legitimacy of parental authority and tobacco and alcohol use during early adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health 31(5): 425-432, 2002.

What Parents Should Know

It’s not easy being a parent. There are so many different “hats” you have to wear: family chauffeur, chef, homework expert, rule enforcer, organizer and budget director. Plus, you’re expected to be an expert on everything!

As your child gets older, he or she begins the road to independence—and the older they get, the less it seems they listen! However, it’s important to remember that adolescents actually do listen to their parents when it comes to issues like drinking and smoking, especially if the messages are conveyed consistently and with authority. Research suggests that only 19% of teens feel that parents should have a say in the music they listen to, and 26% believe their parents should influence what clothing they wear. However, the majority—around 80%—feel that parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol.*

In a 2014 online survey of 663 high school students by MADD, teens whose parents told them there were against underage drinking were more than 80% less likely to drink than teens whose parents didn’t give them a clear message. Only 8% of teens whose parents said that underage drinking was unacceptable were active drinkers. Nearly 50% of teens whose parents thought that underage drinking was acceptable or somewhat acceptable were active drinkers.

An annual survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University actually admonished parents for contributing to alcohol and drug use among kids ages 12-17.

The report stated, “Some parents fail to monitor their children’s activities, do not safeguard medications at home that can be used for abuse, and do not set good examples for kids.”

As Elizabeth Planet, Director of Special Projects for the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse said, “It’s important to do the parenting essential to help your child negotiate the difficult teen years free of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.”

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2002, 2006

Can Alcohol Hurt Teens?

When you were growing up, the drinking age was probably age 18.  Many of our parents actually introduced us to drinking alcohol at home, because they thought it was safer that way.  Well, we know now that kids who start to drink at home end up having more problems with alcohol as adults. Thanks to a lot of research, we now have a better understanding of how alcohol affects teen brains.

As a teen or young adult, the brain is still growing and developing and will continue to do so until the age of 22-24. Studies now prove that drinking alcohol, even in small quantities, can harm that growth.

When teens drink alcohol, it’s absorbed into the bloodstream, and then affects the central nervous system. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, which controls all body functions.

Even small amounts of alcohol can be risky. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down or depresses the brain. You might start out happy and relaxed, but usually alcohol makes you sad. Alcohol users often cry uncontrollably. It affects your ability to think, speak and even your sense of balance.

* KidsHealth Study from Nemours Foundation (690 kids ages 9-13)

In a national study, more than 90% of kids think teens that drink alcohol are not cool. 89% said drinking alcohol between ages 9-13 was never ok.

The Effects of Alcohol

  • Drinking alcohol can result in feeling physically ill, causing nausea, blackouts and even unconsciousness
  • An excess of alcohol can cause a “hangover.” It can also lead to severe dehydration which can lead to hospitalization
  • Teens can often act out of character, or say or do something they don’t mean
  • It can hurt the ability to make good decisions. Kids who drink often act impulsively and do things they otherwise wouldn’t do—including having sex or trying illegal drugs
  • Teens (and adults!) can end up doing something embarrassing. When you drink alcohol, inhibitions are lessened.  This can be especially embarrassing especially since everything can be documented and put on the internet or sent through cell phones
  • When teens drink alcohol, they can be arrested and the adult providing the alcohol can also be arrested.  Teens also run the risk of being expelled from school or kicked off school teams, drill teams, band or other organizations
  • When teens drink, they can easily let their guard down and decide to trust someone they wouldn’t otherwise trust. They might decide to ride in a car with someone who has been drinking, or leave with someone they don’t know at all, which is risky
  • Teens who drink are more likely to get into fights, both verbally and physically
  • Teens who drink don’t do as well in school. It can damage their ability to study well and earn good grades
  • It can affect their ability to perform well in sports, because alcohol affects balance and coordination
  • Teen drinkers are more likely to gain weight or have health problems like high blood pressure
  • Alcohol is addictive. If teens start drinking when they’re young, it increases their chances for developing alcoholism, especially if it runs in the family

Additional Resource:  www.kidshealth.org

Lock It Up

The Scope of the Prescription Drug Misuse Epidemic

According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey of Drug Use and Health, between 6 and 7 million Americans, age 12 and older, have misused a prescription painkiller (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin) sedative (e.g., Valium, Xanax) or stimulant (e.g., Ritalin, Adderall) in the past month. Approximately 5,500 people do so for the first time every day.

What Caused this Epidemic?

We believe there is a “perfect storm” for the misuse of medications that is fueled by:
  • The normalization of medication use in our society. There are more than 4 billion prescriptions filled every year in the United States, and nearly half of the U. S. population has taken at least one prescription drug in the past month. The United States is one of only two developed nations which permit direct-to-consumer advertisements for prescription drugs. Our society expects quick fixes and frequently turns to medications to solve our problems.
  • There is relatively easy access to medications. For example, although the U. S. comprises less than 5% of the world’s population, Americans consume 80% of the world’s supply of painkillers. Further, about two-thirds of those misusing these drugs report that they obtained the medications from family members or friends (most often for free).
  • Many of us have misconceptions of safety and legality when misusing prescription medications. Some people incorrectly believe that prescription medications cannot cause addiction, that they are safer to misuse than illicit “street” drugs, and that it is legal to use medications that have not been prescribed for us.

Our key messages for using medicines safely are quite simple:

  • Always store your medications securely to prevent others from taking them, and properly dispose of medications that you no longer need.
  • Be a good example to those around you by modeling these safe medication-taking practices and discussing the dangers of misusing prescription drugs with your kids, family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Never share your prescription medications with others or use someone else’s prescription medications.
  • Only use prescription medications as directed by a health professional.
  • Be a good example to those around you by modeling these safe medication-taking practices and discussing the dangers of misusing prescription drugs with your kids, family, friends, and colleagues.

 

More information about proper storage and disposal of prescription medications: