Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back to School a Good Time to Talk with Teens about Drugs, Alcohol

Newark Advocate

Young people can worry tremendously about how they are perceived, especially by new people or in new situations. Typically, the start of a school year means your children will face plenty of both, making the back-to-school season prime time for negative peer pressure. Too often, that negative peer pressure might result in use of alcohol and drugs as a means to "fit in." It is also an unfortunate reality that our children are exposed to and are experimenting with drugs and alcohol at an earlier age.

Every community faces these issues. How we chose to deal with them can have a significant impact on our individual lives and on our community as a whole.

So what does that mean for you and your family? First and foremost, you can educate yourself on the most commonly used drugs by kids -- including over-the-counter drugs and prescription medication you might have in your house. Take the time to talk with your kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and to let them know you don't want them using drugs or alcohol. When parents and kids take the time to talk to each other, you will find out more about what's going on in their lives.

Communicating with other parents, grandparents, neighbors and school officials will also help create a network of people who share your values and goals. It also will reinforce to your kids this is a serious issue and more than just your family is involved.

Research shows kids who are not regularly monitored by their parents are four times more likely to use drugs and alcohol. We all need to be involved.

The Community Mental Health and Recovery Board works each day to help support and promote resources to keep our children drug and alcohol free. Two recent examples of this support include a communitywide effort to reduce access to and abuse of prescription drugs by our youth and CMHRB's steadfast support and direct involvement in the "Our Futures" initiative.

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs misused by teens today is a serious problem. Medications include pain killers, cold medicines with dextromethorphan (DXM), among others. Kids are accessing these drugs in the comfort of their home; it can be as easy as opening a cupboard, drawer or medicine cabinet. The good news is there are steps you can take to help protect your kids from prescription drug abuse. Logon to www.Communty MHRB.org for links to videos and tips in keeping your medications safe from others.

The "Our Futures" initiative in Licking County is a coalition of stakeholders with diverse backgrounds have the common belief our community's youth are our future. Key community sectors involved are working together to implement research tested strategies for Licking County and its youth. The community can access additional information, including recent survey results at communitymhrb.org and evidenced-based strategies at www. ourfutures.org.

Finally, each September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month -- a time to recognize the efforts of treatment providers, promote the benefits of treatment and encourage individuals with substance abuse disorders to seek treatment and recovery. This year's theme is "Join the Voices for Recovery: Now More Than Ever!"

As the architect and supporter of community prevention and treatment services, CMHRB and its provider agencies work to assure community resources are available to help children and adults in Licking and Knox Counties.

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