Drug Proofing Your Home
This information is provided by Drug Use is Life Abuse to help parents understand substance abuse. Drug abuse is too wide spread to assume that it will never touch your children’s lives. Preventing drug abuse really starts with preventing drug use. Even children as young as third grade feel the pressure to try “gateway” drugs such as tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. Research shows that each of these drugs is associated with increased risk that the user will someday turn to more dangerous drugs. While responsibility for addressing this problem should be shared by the community, parents and school, ultimately the war against drugs will be won in hundreds of individual homes.
Constructive communication is one of the most effective tools in helping your child avoid drug use. Listening and talking to your child will show that you care.
Ten Ways To Drug-Proof Your Child
Where do you start?
Tell you child about how drugs are harmful to everyone, especially young people whose bodies and minds are still growing. Drug abuse will lead to impaired school performance and motor skills. Children who use drugs often lose friends and interest in school. They could have trouble paying attention in class and become unable to remember what is taught.
Tell your child that you do not find drug use acceptable. Establish appropriate consequences. Many children say they have never heard their parents state this principle. Also, tell them drug abuse is against the law.
Praise your child. Tell your child what good qualities he or she possesses. Be specific. Let him or her know that drug abuse can cover up or destroy those fine traits.
Show your child some drug-free alternatives. Parties, picnics and family outings do not have to include drugs.
Teach you child to say no! Tell your child what behavior you expect in certain situations. Let your child know that you believe in and trust him or her to do what is right!
What do you say?
Learn by doing! Act out situations in which your child needs to make an important decision. Figure out different ways to resolve conflicts. Role-playing is a good way to practice decision-making skills.
Grab those “teachable moments.” Rather than lecturing, use a “real life” situation to teach social values. For example, while you are watching television together a negative event may occur. Ask your child how he or she would have reacted. Discuss other choices. Do the same with newspapers, books and the news. Make on point a a time. Other opportunities will arise.
You are the model for you child’s behavior. Your example will dictate the future habits of your children. Your child will compare what you say with what you do. If you drink, don’t drive. If you smoke, try to quit or try not smoke around the children. Do not use illegal drugs.
Exchange information with your child about drugs. Encourage your child to share experiences, concerns and fears openly. On-going dialogue is much more effective than just talking about drugs once.
Communicate calmly and frankly the facts about drugs. You don’t need to exaggerate; the facts are grim enough.
What do you look for?
Kids may try tobacco, alcohol and marijuana for the first time for any of these reasons:
…….to fit in
…….to do what friends are doing
…….to escape from pain
…….to take a risk
…….ignorance of the effects
…….mimicking inappropriate adult behavior
…….lack of appropriate values
Symptoms of Drug Abuse
While one of these symptoms may not indicate a drug problem, a combination of two or more may be a warning to parents. Here is a helpful word to remember in identifying drug use in your child: I-R-R-I-T-A-B-L-E.
Impulsive. Drug-abusive children become increasingly selfish and impulsive.
Recent drop in grades.
Resistance to authority increases.
Inability to keep promises or commitment.
Tough new group of friends. Peer pressure is often the main reason children use drugs.
Ambivalent feelings, low self-esteem, diminished interest.
Blaming and belligerent; turning situations around, inappropriate anger, hostility, irritability.
Escape or withdrawal from the family. Physical signs may also occur: memory lapses, shortened attention span, difficulty in concentration, poor physical coordination, unhealthy appearance, lack of hygiene and grooming, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils.
What can you do?
Here are some proven actions.
CONFRONTATION. But never while the child is under the influence. Wait until they are feeling the after-effects of their high (a hang-over). They will be much more open to an offer of help.
DISCUSSION. Be objective, calm about your suspicions. Shouting and accusing only cause your child to tune out.
COMMUNICATION. Listen. Important. The abusing child is under the influence of something stronger than they are. Address the subject of peer pressure.
RESPONSIBILITY. Children must be made to understand they are responsible for their actions while under the influence. (Example: if they wreck the car they must pay for repairs.)
FACE IT. Admit that your child has a problem. Get help immediately.
TAKE CHARGE. Try not to fly off the handle. Ranting and raving can cause a retreat to drugs.
BE A ROCK. Your kids are not lacking in character or backbone – they are out of control. Your child is not the person you once knew. Understanding and firm assistance are needed now more than ever.
Did you know?
While casual use of illicit drugs has taken a small drop, chronic addiction has increased largely due to use of crack cocaine. Hospital admissions have increased dramatically in the past year.
According to a 1989 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nationwide treatment centers report that their average patient is younger and becomes addicted in a shorter period of time.
Alcohol is the leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds.
About 90% of high school seniors and over 50% of 7th graders have tried alcohol.
Alcohol is the most widely used drug among teenagers. The most popular alcoholic beverage among teenagers is beer.
Many surveys suggest that the best predictor of the drinking habits of adolescents is the attitude and behavior of their parents regarding the use of alcohol.
A child will see alcohol consumed over 75,000 times on TV before he or she reaches legal drinking age (21 years).
One out of nine 7th to 12th graders is currently an at-risk or problem drinker.
It is unlawful for any person to be drinking while in a motor vehicle whether a passenger or driver and whether or not the car is moving.
If you’re 13 to 21 years of age and are convicted of any drug or alcohol offense, you may be subject to lose your driver’s license for one year or wait an extra year to get you first license.
Smoking is the most prevalent form of drug dependence in our society.
Tobacco is the only legal substance that, when used as intended, kills.
90% of smokers started smoking before they were 18 years old.
Are you doing these things?
A family crisis resulting from drug abuse need not be all negative. Such occurrences can bring problems into the open with an accompanying release of tensions and frustrations. Ultimately, the difficult times can bring a family closer together.
Nothing will change, however, if everyone goes back to “business as usual” once the crisis has passed. Rather, this is the time for an honest assessment of the way family members relate to each other, how problems are solved and the level of mutual respect develops for one another.
A thorough family inventory can give everyone the basis for a new start. When things have gone from bad to worse there seems to be no way out. But one person can initiate a change, stick with it and eventually influence everyone else. The key is being consistent.
The following suggestions may be helpful in initiating a change:
Listen – Let your child tell the story. Ask what he or she is feeling.
Talk Frankly – State the facts. Avoid moralizing, nagging, criticizing, or ridiculing to understand the child’s reasons for misbehaving (attention, power, revenge). Tel how you feel. Let him know you have a policy of no drug use.
Follow Through – Adolescents can be made to understand that receiving certain privileges are contingent upon execution of certain positive behavior. Parents must be consistent and follow through with appropriate discipline.
Obtain Commitments – When a problem is being resolved allow the child to set the goal. Ask questions such as “What have you decided to do?” or “When do you expect to do it?” This helps teach the child to be self-reliant and be able to regulate his own behavior.
Be More Consistent in Your Actions – By being consistent, you let your children know what to expect.
Be Both Firm and Kind – Most parents are either firm or kind. Few are firm and kind at the same time. Your tone of voice indicates your desire to be kind while your follow-through with appropriate action indicates your firmness.
Teaching by Example – Nothing is more convincing than a person who practices what he or she preaches.
Encouragement – This helps a person believe in oneself. A parent who focuses on the child’s strengths and builds on his or her assets is helping the child develop an attitude of self-worth.
Be Together – Parents need not be strangers to their kids. Make the time to be with them long enough to begin to understand their feelings, needs, and desires.
Keep Communication Lines Open – Always let your children know that they need not be afraid to bring any problem to you for discussion. It is in your best interest to learn, as soon as possible, if something is going wrong. Remember, the escalation of a day-to-day situation into a full blown crisis is usually due to a failure in communication. Parents have the responsibility to create a climate that encourages communication.
Network With Other Parents – Call the parents of your child’s friends. By joining together you may set common limits on behavior. Take a united stand against drug abuse.
Provide Tools for Living – Drug and alcohol prevention is really the promotion of positive skills for dealing with life. The best defense against the risk of drug and alcohol abuse is young people armed with the tools for communication, guidelines for decision-making, awareness of correct information, and the means to develop positive alternatives. Together these constitute a healthy self concept.