Back to school good time to discuss dangers of alcohol and drugs
By Steve Hedge –
For many families, September conjures up ideas of back-to-school, football games and falling leaves. It is a highly emotional time filled with excitement, anticipation and uncertainty. For some children and adolescents though, these emotions are overrun with new feelings of stress and anxiety about school changes—everything from starting a new school to making good grades. The pressure children feel to excel academically, athletically and to fit in with their peers begins much younger than you would think. For some children, these pressures result in alcohol and drug use. Below are some simple, effective ways to help prevent your child (or a child you know) from getting involved with substances.
Talk early and often. Abuse of substances can begin at a very young age; so regular talks about the dangers of drugs and alcohol is critical. Start the discussions early to establish an open relationship with your child, allowing them to more freely share the troubles they face. Try role-playing difficult situations. It is never too late to start talking!
De-stress. If you sense that your child is stressed in one or more areas, work together to teach them healthy ways to relax and enjoy life. Exercise or a simple walk can break the tension.
Educate. Familiarize yourself with today’s commonly used substances (alcohol and marijuana, for example), as well as new trends such as performance enhancing drugs, “bath salts” and prescription medications. Additionally, learn the warning signs of substance use.
Stay involved. Parents who are actively engaged in their children’s lives are more likely to have children who are able to resist the pressure to try drugs and alcohol. Attend their sporting events and school plays. Know who their friends are and where they are going.
Form a community. Keep the lines of communication open with everyone you know. Friends, grandparents, school representatives, clergy and more all form an important circle of prevention. Talking with others will help you keep a pulse on trends and what’s happening with other children. There is a wide range of support available throughout the community should you ever need it.
Seek help when needed. If you discover substance abuse with your child, seek help. Substance abuse does not discriminate and is present in all communities, so pretending it is not an issue for your child will not help. Treatment works and recovery is possible with the right assistance. Recovery benefits everyone.
The Delaware-Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board (DMMHRSB) believe alcohol and illicit drug awareness, prevention and treatment is best achieved through a community-wide effort. As the architect and supporter of the network of cost-effective, quality services DMMHRSB and its provider agencies, such as Maryhaven and Recovery & Prevention Resources of Delaware and Morrow Counties, work to assure that community resources are available to help all residents. Further, the national health care reform will make positive changes to support better access to needed recovery services for substance abuse and mental health disorders.
In addition to treatment programs for adults, youth and families, resources are made available for an array of school-based prevention and support programs so that the youth in our community understand the dangers of alcohol and drugs and are empowered to make good decisions.
To find community additional resources and links please logon to www.dmmhrsb.org.
By Steve Hedge is the Executive Director of the Delaware-Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board