Nationally representative findings indicate that there are 23.5 million American adults who are overcoming an involvement with drugs or alcohol that they once considered to be problematic. At the time of the survey, that was about 10% of the adult population*.
Given that recovery is difficult and definitely not guaranteed, how can we best protect our kids from starting to use alcohol and/or drugs?
Experts say that it’s important to be consistent and clear about our stance on drugs. If we given them the idea that it’s okay to experiment, they’re more likely to do so. We can recognize that they’re curious, encourage them to ask questions and listen without judgment. But make sure they know the rules, and monitor them closely.
Also, be aware of underlying issues that can easily lead to drug use. Is your child rebellious? Impulsive? Does s/he have trouble making friends? Are they stressed? Are they struggling in school? Get appropriate help for them before they decide to self-medicate.
Know that our kids are watching us, and our behavior sets the example far more than our words. If you drink or use drugs, odds are that they will follow suit.
Lock up your alcohol and medication. Most teens who start drinking or using get their alcohol and drugs from their own, or a friend’s, home. It’s easy to convince ourselves that our child’s not going to make such a bad choice. But experience shows that even the “best & brightest” are at risk. And the young brain, no matter its IQ, is especially vulnerable to addiction and long-term damage.
* “Survey: Ten Percent of American Adults Report Being in Recovery from Substance Abuse or Addiction” by Josie Feliz, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, March 6, 2012.