Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thinking of New Year Resolutions? How about....

Seven Ways to Protect Your Teen from Alcohol and Other DrugsFrom the Bureau of Substance Abuse Service, Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health
Copies of this as a booklet (#SA1011) can be ordered by calling 1-800-952-6637

#1 Be a Role Model. Fact: Children imitate adults.
Actions: How to be a role model:
- If you drink, do so in moderation.
- Never drive after drinking.
- Do not use illegal drugs.
- Be conscious of your use of prescription drugs.
- Dispose properly of unused prescription drugs, mixed with coffee grinds or kitty litter in a zip-lock baggie into the garbage, not down the toilet. Or to a Rx drop box in your community, most likely at a police station.
- Use household products in a ventilated area, according to directions.

#2 Be Clear About Your Expectations.
Fact: The most common reason young people give for not using alcohol and drugs is not wanting to harm their relationship with the adults in their lives.
Actions: Say: It is not okay for you to drink, use inhalants or do drugs because….
- It is against the law.
- You’re still growing and your brain is still developing. Alcohol and other substances can cause brain damage that may be permanent.
- If you start when you are young, you are much more likely to become addicted and that will get in the way of your dreams.
- Inhalants are extremely dangerous and can cause permanent brain damage or death, even the first time they are used.
Actions: When your kids get older, be more explicit about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs:
- Drinking affects your decision-making. You are more likely to make a bad decision and end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is not necessarily a matter of luck.
- Kids who drink are more likely to drive drunk, or get in a car where the driver is drunk.
- Kids who drink are more likely to try other drugs.
- Using Ecstasy can permanently alter your b rain.
- Heroin is highly addictive.

#3 Set Limits and Follow Through.
Fact: Parents’ permissiveness is a bigger factor in teenage drug use than peer pressure.
Actions: Establish rules.
- Discuss rules in advance.
- Follow through with consequences. Uphold limits set in school or in the community. For example, if your child is suspended for violating a rule, investigate, and help him learn from the consequences.
- Allow your teen to build trust. Reward good behavior. Tighten the reins when rules are broken.

#4 Be Involved In Your Kid’s Life. Fact: Teens are much less likely to use drugs when parents are involved in their lives.
Actions: Ways to stay involved:
- Listen with empathy. Don’t judge.
- Initiate conversation with an observation like, “you seem sad,” or “you seem stressed.”
- Have dinner together at least four times a week.
- Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents.
- When your kids are going to someone’s house, check to see if an adult will be home.
- Encourage them to call you if they ever feel at risk.

#5 Help Your Teen Become Well-Rounded. Fact: Teens who participate in community service and extracurricular activities are less likely to be involved in drugs and alcohol.
Actions: Encourage your child to spend several hours a week on a combination of
- Community Service AND
- Sports
- Art, music, drama AND
- Clubs, etc.

#6 Encourage Your Teen to Try Hard in School. Fact: Teens who perform well in school are less likely to become involved with alcohol and drugs.
- Limit screen time.
- Encourage effort over grades.
- Praise every improvement.
- If a child thinks or says, “School is boring,” consider ways to fix that. Talk with his or her teachers.
- Find ways to help your child do something in school well, even if they don’t get A’s.

#7 Reach Out. Fact: Teens with supportive adults in their lives as less likely to use alcohol and other drugs.
Action: Seek and give ongoing support.
- Spend time with close family members.
- Join activities in your community.
- Talk to parents in similar situations.
- Stay connected with neighbors and friends.

People who can help guide your child or help you find community resources:
- Pediatrician or health care provider
- Guidance counselor
- Social Worker
- Teacher
- Religious Leader

CHECKLIST: Does your teen….._ Have strong family support?
_ Understand the limits you have set?
_ Have high expectations for his or her future?
_ Have a safe environment at home and school?
_ Participate in a supportive, caring community?
_ Pursue extracurricular activities like sports, art, music, theater, or clubs?
_ Learn about values through regular volunteer work, being in a community group and/or religious programs?
_ Have dinner with you and your family at least four times a week?
_ Hang out with friends who act responsibly?
_ Feel he or she can come to you with a serious problems?

Every item on the list contributes to your teen’s healthy future and reduces chances or drug and alcohol abuse.

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