What are the Concerns?
Substance abuse is a serious concern for our local youth. Here are just some of the numbers:
- 26% of Erie County students used alcohol this month and 16% binged in last 2 weeks. This includes 42% of seniors.
- 10% of Erie County youth have been drunk or high at school.
- 25% of seniors used marijuana this month.
Substance abuse goes beyond experimentation, it means that a young person’s life is starting to be disrupted by their use. Common examples include:
- Dropping in grades.
- Risky sexual behavior or sexual assault.
- Loss of motivation.
- Driving under the influence.
- Increased criminal activity.
- Decline in family relationships.
- Mood problems.
What can I do?
There are options out there to help with substance abuse and addiction. Many adults don’t want to admit it, but this can start very early in a person’s life. In fact, many recovering addicts point to middle or high school as the time the problems began. It is important to get young people screened for substance abuse if you suspect a problem, and then into appropriate treatment. There are even services in place to have children seen in their schools to improve their abilities to attend and complete treatment.
- Pay attention to how your child behaves. Spend time talking each day.
- Begin talking with your child early on in his or her life about substance use.
- Monitor alcohol is your home to see if any is missing.
- Keep your prescription drugs locked away from children. Prescription drugs are a favored drug among teens.
- Ask questions, and ask questions about your children’s friends.
- Double check: if your child states he’s going to the movies, swing by on occasion, or ask alot of questions to determine if you think it is accurate information.
- Respect privacy, but also your authority: parents may need to periodically check their kids’ rooms and belongings, or monitor social networking like Facebook or texting. If you talk openly with your kids about this and why you are doing it, they may not like it, but they will come to appreciate your love and attention to their safety.
- Be there 24/7/365: set a rule that you will always come get your child out of a bad situation; encourage s/he to call if their friends are engaging in behavior that makes them uncomfortable, or if they need a ride home.
- Limit alone time after school.
- Get your kids involved in after school activities; they take up time and also send the message that there are many other important things to do in life that drug and alcohol use can only interfere with.
- Model the substance use you’d like to see. If you want your child to avoid substance abuse, drink in moderation yourself. Don’t use drugs, or smoke.
- Spend time together. Families that eat together and enjoy activities together have children who are less likely to substance abuse. Moreover, you are more likely to see any warning signs that arise.
What are Warning Signs?
- Sudden disruption of family relationships.
- Rule violations at home and/or school.
- Significant conflict with adults.
- Sudden weight loss.
- Not coming home on time.
- Money or valuables are missing.
- Impaired behavior, like slurring words, stumbling, or confusion, reduced memory or sudden inattention or agitation.
- Drug related items: roach clips, empty bottles, baggies, pipes, etc.
- Smelling alcohol or smoke on your child.