By the time teens graduate from high school, about 45 percent will have tried marijuana, according the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
And while marijuana is one of the most used substances among teenagers, it is not the only one of concern today. The drug epidemic is an expansive and very real public health crisis and families are on the front line when it comes to getting prevention and recovery efforts underway. Here are three steps parents can take to help keep their kids safe.
1. Communicate. The best line of defense is an open relationship with your children that encourages a healthy dialogue about the dangers of drug use in terms they can understand. Paired with consequences that will resonate, like the taking away of freedoms and valued items, discussions should include talking openly about the effects of drugs like marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine on a user’s health and wellness. Be available and willing to listen to whatever your children have to say without interrupting or losing your composure, ensuring a healthy conversation where they feel their voices are being heard.
2. Have a Plan and Offer Privileges and Incentives. In the home, prescription drugs such as opioids and stimulants should be locked away safely, accessible only to the person to whom they’re prescribed. If those drugs are prescribed to your child, monitor use of the medication, and keep it stored in your bathroom rather than your child’s. Parents who suspect their child may be facing peer pressure or abusing drugs should consider using a home drug test. Sold at major retailers in the pharmacy section, First Check Home Drug Tests are a quick and accessible resource for parents concerned about their children’s health. Over 99 percent accurate, these kits deliver results in five minutes, testing for the presence of up to 14 commonly abused drugs. Your drug prevention plan may also include a system of rewards for passing home drug tests, including car privileges and other tangible incentives.
3. Strategize Saying “No.” Strategize with your children on how to say “no” when pressured to use drugs, while also reinforcing the “why.” Reasons to say “no” can be anything from not wanting to harm one’s grades, health or athletic potential, or even just the fact that you implement home drug testing. To that end, consider home drug testing as a way to take the pressure off your children, giving them an easy out in social situations where drugs are introduced, while saving face with peers. You can even give them a line to use on their friends, such as, “I can’t, my parents are crazy and they drug test me!” More tips to help raise drug-free kids can be found at notmykid.org. Drug use is a challenging issue to navigate, but with a few preventative actions and an open discourse, you can foster a healthy, drug-free environment for your family.