Red flags for Parents
- It’s time to get help if you notice:
- Extreme mood swings, frequent “illness”, school problems, lack of motivation
- Secrecy, avoiding family, lying, unreasonable anger
- Hanging with a new group of friends (especially ones you do not know)
- Questionable money management and sources
- Unusual items (which could include paraphernalia)
Early education and intervention is the best prevention. Many kids make critical decisions about alcohol and drugs in elementary and middle school. Parents can makes a positive difference. To paraphrase Charles Curie, SAMHSA’s administrator,”Children admit that their parents’ disapproval of underage drinking [and use of drugs] is the key reason they have chosen NOT to indulge.”
What parents can you do as early intervention:
- Talk openly about substance abuse early; set the expectation of zero-tolerance. Expect to have this discussion many, many times; it is not a one-time event.
- Teach your children to have healthy fun without alcohol or drugs. Be an example.
- Don’t let your kids grow up with absentee parents. Share the parenting responsibilities with other reliable parents, neighbors, relatives, or friends if your work or other circumstances prevent you from being there at key times during the day.
- Bolster your children’s self-confidence; talk with them about how to resist negative peer pressure.
- Always know where your children are, what they are doing, and who their friends are. Know their friends’ parents.
- Never let your children attend unsupervised parties; never allow your children to have unsupervised parties in your home
- Do not give your underage children alcohol or drugs – it is illegal!
If you suspect that your children are using alcohol or drugs:
Act immediately: Tell them you LOVE them and you are worried that they might be using drugs or alcohol. You KNOW that this behavior seems like the thing to do, but it can have serious consequences. Let them know that you FEEL worried and concerned. You are there to LISTEN and you WANT them to be a part of the solution. Then tell them what you WILL do to help them.
Turn to community and health specialists for guidance:
- School counselors and student assistance professionals
- Your family doctor or pediatrician, or community health center
- Your minister
- Adolescent prevention or treatment professionals
- Your county’s community anti-drug coalition (Dare CASA)