According to a recent study by Michigan State Researchers, the “Peak risk for misusing prescription pain relievers occurs in mid-adolescence, specifically about 16 years old and earlier than many experts thought.” (Science Daily)
It’s always been assumed that drug and alcohol use starts in the latter years of adolescence, and while that may be the average, by the time some of these kids hit high school, preventative measures may be too late. This study is suggesting that preventative programs be introduced much earlier than in current practice. I echo this sentiment and am a huge proponent of early preventative measures. How early? As soon as the questions start coming up. You can make a difference at home too:
- Tell your child in a general way what drugs are and how they can negatively impact their life.
- Teach the value and power of saying “No” and walking away from people or situations where drugs are involved.
- Store your medications responsibly: Behind lock and key if necessary.
- Model good behavior: if you are stressed, take a deep breath instead of a drink or a pill. Your kids learn from you first.
- Transparency: If you are in recovery, and your kids ask you a question about your history, answer them within reason.
- Know who your kids’ friends are and who their parents are.
- Stay in tune with current events and trends.
- Be social media savvy so you can understand the temperature of this generation.
- If you discover drugs or alcohol on your child, use it as a doorway to create dialogue. If you find that the drug use is more of a pattern, please get some help.
There are definitely organizations that teach preparedness and prevention, but the first teachers our kids ever have is us. Showing our kids we’re there for them may be the best preventative measure of all.
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