If you have a young person in your life who you believe may be using or considering using drugs, there are many ways you can get involved and help them take positive steps in their lives. The first step is being an involved, concerned parent. Most teens interviewed about why they turn to drugs or other harmful behaviors say that they don't feel that anyone cares about them. Taking a moment just to ask your child how their day is going, what they are doing after school, or how their school work is progressing can have long-lasting impacts on your child's development and pscyhe.
You are the first line of defense when it comes to your child's drug use or drinking habits. You are the difference maker!
Tips for Parents
Here are some things you may consider doing to help keep your children safe and free from drugs.
- Set Rules. Let your child know alcohol and drug use is unacceptable in your family.
- Enforce stated consequences when family rules are broken.
- Know where your teens are and what will they be doing during unsupervised time.
- Talk to your child. Casually ask how things are going at school, with friends, and his plans for the future.
- Keep your teens busy, especially between 3 pm to 6 pm and into evening hours.
- Teens who are involved in constructive, adult supervised activities are less likely to use drugs than other teens.
- Take time to learn the facts about marijuana and underage drinking and talk to your teen about the harmful effects on young people. Get to know your child’s friends and parents. Make sure you know their rules and standards.
Knowing the Signs of Drug Abuse
It can be difficult to detect the signs of drug abuse because changes in mood, attitudes, unusual temper outbursts, and changes in hobbies or other interests are common in teens. Recognizing a possible drug-related behavioral issue early may, however, lead to early prevention before long-term health and behavioral problems occur.
As a parent, you should look for signs of depression, withdrawal and hostility:
- Changes in friends and people they choose to “hang out” with.
- Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, discipline problems, activity changes.
- Increased secrecy about possessions or personal activities; locking bedroom door.
- Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors.
- Subtle changes in conversations with friends, more secretive; using coded language.
- Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use.
- Evidence of drug paraphernalia, such as pipes, rolling papers.
- Bottles of eye drops, used to mask blood-shot eyes, or dilated pupils.
- Missing prescription drugs -- especially narcotics and stabilizers.
Accept the role of a parent as your major responsibility. Children do not need you to be their friend, let others be their friend. You be the parent!
For Younger Children
Children can learn about drugs and other dangerous things like guns, from their peers, older children, television, or other means. But the most important place they can learn is from you, the parent. Keep your children informed about the importance of avoiding drugs and other harmful items like guns, strangers, and predators.
The Narcotics and Special Investigations Division has put together a simple coloring book with lots of important lessons for young children about police, drug and gun safety, and more. You can download a copy of the coloring book [PDF]. An example from the 14-page book is shown at right.