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Raising Drug-Free Kids

Parents have a tremendous influence over their children’s lives. Teaching children how to make healthy choices is not always an easy task. The following are some suggestions of ways that you can take a pro-active role in parenting youth.

  • Be a good role model. 
    Children often do as their parents do. Explore some of your own behaviors and determine if they may be setting a poor example for your child.  Also, note that alcohol and chemical dependency are hereditary.
  • Pay close attention to your child during stressful times
    Children need extra attention during challenging times such as divorce, moving homes, attending a new school, death of a friend or loved one, depression, boredom, etc. Discussing or acknowledgment of a child’s feelings about these stresses may offer a way in which you are able to assist them in overcoming these feelings.
  • Assist them to maintain a balance between school, activities and social events.
    Just as we need a healthy balanced diet, we need our day to be healthy too. Many children turn towards substances because they are bored, while others do so because they are stressed. This balancing point is different for every child but needs to be properly maintained.
  • Stay active in your child’s life. 
    Parents often have the opportunity to volunteer with school events, Parent Teacher Organizations, sports and other extracurricular actives, and scouts. Volunteering your time towards youth-centered activity can allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of the issues surrounding your child at school or play.
  • Take Precautions.
    Keeping alcohol and medications safely locked away may prevent misuse or abuse. Also, if your child, of any age, is prescribed medications, talk to them about not sharing those medications with anyone, including their friends or siblings.Become aware of the lingo being used for drugs. If you hear a child using a term you have never heard before. Look it up, it may be new terminology for a substance.
  • Talk with your kids.
    Have an agreement with your child; at any time they are able to call you and ask for a ride home without questions. This may provide them with an escape from certain situations. Many times children know more about drugs than their parents do. It is very important to have honest discussions about substances. Having these conversations earlier, rather than later, often keeps the dialogue open and allows children to ask questions without fear of repercussions.

CLICK HERE for additional information about raising drug-free kids.

Suspecting Substance Abuse

Children turn to drugs because of one of two reasons; either to party or to escape.  Often, the initial experience with a substance is to experience new feelings or emotions.  Once the substance has been experimented with, at times, children seek out that experience again in order to escape or hide from certain emotions.

Parents and caregivers should be able to identify certain signs or symptoms that a loved one may be using or experimenting. These following signs may mimic normal erratic teen behavior, however, they may also be red flags to substance use:

Withdraw from activities
Defiant behavior
Change in appearance
Acting distant from family or friends
Hanging out with a different crowd
Sudden changes in mood or attitude
Lack of interest in personal appearance
Changes in eating or sleeping habits
Dramatic increase or decrease in weight

CLICK HERE for additional information about suspecting substance abuse.

Additional Parenting Resources

5 Lessons for Parents of Substance-Abusing Teens –  Article from with tips for parents on what to when you have a teen that is abusing drugs.
6 Parenting Practices – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids provides an ebook on parenting practices
An Age by Age Guide for Talking to Kids About Substance Abuse – The Caron Foundation provides an article on how to approach the topic of substance abuse at different ages
11 Ways to Get Your Teen Talking – A blog post from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Afterschool Alliance – An organization dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of after-school programs and advocating for more afterschool investments
Center for Safe Schools – Seeks creative and effective solutions to problems that disrupt the educational process and affect school safety
Center for Schools and Communities – Prevention and intervention initiatives operated by schools, organizations, and agencies serving children, youth, and families
Child Trends – A guide to assessing and increasing school engagement

Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction – a research page from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
NIDA for Parents – NIDA’s teen site with a page dedicated to parents with information regarding Drugs and Your Kids, Scientific Facts About Drugs and Drug Abuse Treatment
Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (NIDA)
Why Do Teens Act This Way?: A Guide to the Teen Brain – Through the use of video, interactive segments, scenario-based role-playing experiences, and practical advice from experts explore the science behind teenage brain development and how it shapes normal teenage attitude and behavior
National Families in Action – Missioned to help families and communities prevent drug use among children by promoting policies based on science

Heroin: What Parents Need to Know – facts on heroin from
Lock the Cabinet – A movement to encourage adults to take all precautions to avoid prescription drug abuse by children
PA Stop –  a website from The Commonwealth Prevention Alliance designed to educate Pennsylvanians about the risks of prescription painkiller and heroin use, the relationship between painkiller and heroin use, and what to do when you need help.
Stop Medicine Abuse – Dedicated to informing parents of teens abusing over-the-counter drugs like cough syrup. The website includes prevention tips, slang terms, and a blog from “Five Moms” on key topics.

How to Answer: “But YOU smoked weed when you were younger” – a video on how to talk to your kids about your past drug use
Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know  – resource page for parents on marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety – A guide for parents on protecting their children from exploitation on the internet from the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
NetSmartz – an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline.
Bullying Prevention Guide from Children’s Safety Network – 2015 guide in downloadable PDF
Understanding Bullying in College – Tips, Tools & Solutions for Recognizing and Stopping Bullying in Social Media and Online
Cyberbullying Resource Guide – a list of resources for parents and educators from the University of Pittsburgh regarding cyberbullying
uKnowKids –  An online service that helps you monitor and quickly analyze your child’s social networking and mobile phone activity, profiles, friends and much more.

10 Tips for Talking to Your Teen About Drinking – Elements Behavioral Health
Underage Drinking: What You Should Know – An article from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids with facts/stats on underage drinking and tips on how to talk to your children about it
Understanding Drug & Alcohol Addiction on College Campuses – Read about reasons young adults experiment with drugs and alcohol in college and ways to encourage healthy alternatives

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