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Prevent Drug Use - by Kelly Sickafoose CDFLC Coordinator

Summertime is here - so is the season when many teens experiment with alcohol and drugs. The rate of youth using alcohol for the first time doubles in the months of June and July, largely due to summer being an unsupervised time when teens are alone or with their peers. According to recent surveys, more than 11,000 teens between ages 12 and 17 try alcohol for the first time every day in June and July, and nearly 40 percent of all youth aged 12 to 17 who said they used marijuana said they first used it during the period between May and August. The peak months are June and July.

It’s a tough reality that once a child has tried cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana, their chances of repeated use increase. These substances are also gateway drugs, opening the door to trying and using harder street drugs.

You can make a difference. It all starts with having proactive strategies, such as:

Be Involved. Know where your children are, what they are doing, whom they are with, and whom they are friends with. Check in with your teen during the day using social media, instant message, texting, or a quick phone call. Create a pledge between yourself and your children that promises they will not drink alcohol or use drugs. Have family meals together, using this time to discuss what everyone did today, and what plans are for tomorrow and later in the week. Make time for one-on-one talks with your teen about anything that seems to be bothering him or her – or gently try to determine what may be wrong, if you notice a difference in attitude, dress, manner of speech, appearance or disappearance of certain friends, and so on.

Be a Good Role Model. Parents should show teens good behavior by their own actions. Do not drive a vehicle after drinking. Do not give alcohol or drugs to your children. Convey that drinking and drug use does not solve problems; that it actually creates problems or makes them worse.

Keep them busy with productive activities. A Columbia University study found that young people who were frequently bored were 50% likelier to smoke, drink, or use illegal drugs.

Monitor the alcohol and prescription drugs in your home or store them in a lockable cabinet. If you have unused prescription drugs, please take them to Medication Disposal Box in the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department so they can be kept out of the hands of our youth.

Parental involvement is critical. More than 80 percent of children say parents are the leading influence in their decisions regarding alcohol and drugs. Keep conversations going from their early childhood through adolescence and the teen years. Be consistent, stay on message, be loving, but firm, and always be there for your children. It’s the best thing parents can do to keep teens away from alcohol and drugs – this summer and anytime of the year.

For more information, please visit us on Facebook at Council for a Drug Free LaGrange County – CDFLC.