When we prevent addiction, we give our kids a chance.
The Center for Disease Control states, “Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States. From 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people have died from a drug overdose. In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.”
That is a devastating statistic.
Now that it is 2020, we have lost close to one million people due to an overdose since 1999.
The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to talk about prevention. We need to help our children avoid being a statistic.
Rather than having to pull your child from the depths of addiction, a safer route would be to prevent dependence before it happens.
People ask if substance use can be prevented. The answer is yes.
According to the Center on Addiction, “Substance use prevention starts in the home. Years of research – including studies performed by our Center – show that parents are the biggest influence on their kid’s decision to use nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs. But families do not have to act alone. Prevention must continue in schools with age-appropriate programming through a child’s academic career and in the pediatrician’s office through health education and screening.”
You can prevent your son or daughter from going down the road to addiction. Here are six ways to help:
Prevention starts at home
You, as a parent, are the most significant influencer on your child’s decision to smoke, drink, or use other drugs. Having excellent communication skills is helpful, like the ones laid out by the Community Reinforcement and Family Training Approach.
Know who your child’s friends are. Notice any recent changes in behavior or school problems. They can be clues that your child is experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Being proactive and not assuming that this is a rite of passage will decrease the likelihood that your child’s life will be derailed
In your child’s school
There is no question in my mind that more information needs to be provided about the dangers of drug use during the middle and high school years. Many students receive minimal instruction during their health classes. These classes may occur only once during their entire high school career.
There are ongoing efforts to develop research-based school programs for preventing youth substance use. Yet due to stigma or wanting to create the appearance of a safe school district, many are reluctant to include much-needed drug education. Some states have started down this road by providing more thorough training.
Mandating drug-eduction every year at the state level is the least we can do to help students stay on track and to help parents stay informed.
At the doctor
So much more is needed from our medical community at large to help prevent substance use. First and foremost, medical professionals need more training in medical school about addiction and how to treat it. We also need to work on the stigma around addiction. Not only is addiction stigmatized in the community at large, but there is also a stigma against drug use among some medical professionals as well.
The first step is screening all adolescents for nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs. If the medical community offered effective interventions for those students at risk, that would be a helpful first step. Interventions are rare. Some doctors do not provide screenings. Others do not know how to intervene with at-risk students.
What can you do? See if your child can be screened by your current doctor. Otherwise, find an addiction medicine doctor.
Talk to your children often about drug use
No matter how well your child is doing, talk to them regularly about the dangers of drug or alcohol use. You could bring it up informally, or you can let them know that you want to have a serious discussion about an important topic. Think about what will work best for your family. Don’t lecture your child, stay calm, and ask open-ended questions, so your child doesn’t feel defensive or tune you out. Some ways to do this are:
- Separate fact from your opinion.
- Talk about facts as facts and opinions as opinions.
- Ask for your child’s opinion and listen to what they have to say without judgment.
Some parents feel that if they bring up the topic, their child will shut them out, or they will put ideas into their child’s head. However, research shows that the more information and clarity your child has about your rules on drug use, the better. Stay tuned in to how your child is feeling and any challenges that they are facing.
Another option is to brainstorm ideas on how they can refuse if they are offered drugs or alcohol at school or a party. Encourage your child to get involved in activities they enjoy so they are not tempted by peer pressure to try alcohol and drugs.
Set clear boundaries
Being clear on your boundaries and expectations is another helpful tool for preventing substance use. As a family, you could set a no-use rule that everyone agrees to follow about alcohol and other drugs. The no-use rule could include:
- No use of alcohol or drugs before the legal age
- No use or possession of illegal drugs
You could also add a boundary about smoking. Be sure to let your child know the consequences of breaking the no-use rule. The consequences have to be immediate, reasonable, and important to your child. Most importantly, you have to follow through on them.
Also, positive reinforcement for abiding by the rule is as important. Notice what your child is doing well and acknowledge it either with words or small rewards.
Use positive communication
Whether your child is at risk for drug or alcohol use or not, using positive communication improves your relationship. It increases the chances that your child will listen to you. It is easy to get emotional and to try and discipline your way out of drug or alcohol use. That approach rarely works.
Being understanding, compassionate, and open to listening to your child will give you a better chance of getting to the root of the problem. Your child does want your love and support, whether they acknowledge it or not. The more you can work on the issue as a team, the better.
Unfortunately, our society openly promotes alcohol use and more subtly encourages drug use. Here are some examples of why it’s easy for any child to turn to substance use:
- Kids may know using alcohol or other drugs causes problems, even death. But they don’t think it will happen to them.
- They know they are not supposed to use drugs or alcohol, but that makes them want to do it more.
- Their friends may be using alcohol or other drugs, and they feel pressured to use.
- They hear of athletes and other people they admire using substances.
- TV and pop music often make drinking and drugs look attractive.
- Kids think drugs will make them feel good and fit in.
Help your child see through these traps. Communicate often. Get to know your child’s friends, and involve yourself in your child’s life. When you do, your son or daughter will be more likely to stay out of trouble.
A Message to Parents
Also, here is an interesting video by Dr. Nora Volkow on the dangers of early vaping for adolescents and how it changes the brain:
You don’t have to be an expert on drugs to talk to your child. You can help prevent their substance use by learning the basics, staying informed, and being proactive.
Your child deserves a healthy, meaningful life. Drug or alcohol misuse can sabotage that. Remind your child that alcohol and other drug use can lead to long-term problems or even death.
Your child needs you. Let’s all help prevent addiction and make sure our kids stay safe!
By: Cathy Taughinbaugh
Title: 6 Ways to Help Prevent Addiction
Sourced From: cathytaughinbaugh.com/6-ways-to-help-prevent-addiction/
Published Date: Sat, 04 Jan 2020 20:30:37 +0000