Tips to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
Transitions: The first year of middle school
Your child’s transition from elementary school to middle school is a critical time and calls for extra vigilance on a parent’s part. Your child may still seem young, but their new surroundings can put them in some mature and tempting situations. The likelihood that kids will try drugs increases dramatically during this year. Your child is going to meet lots of new kids, seek acceptance and start to make more and bigger choices. For the first time, your kids will be exposed to older kids who use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. New middle or junior high school-ers often think that these older kids are cool and may be tempted to try drugs to fit in.
At this age, peer approval means everything and your child may make you feel unwelcome. He is going through a time where he feels as though he should be able to make his own decisions and may start to challenge your values. While your child may pull away from you to establish his own identity, he actually needs you to be involved in his life more than ever before.
Also, be aware that your child is going through some major physical and hormonal changes. Her moods may vary as she tries to come to terms with her ever-changing body and the onset of puberty. Reassure her that nothing is out of the ordinary and your child can relax knowing that what she’s going through is normal.
To help your child make good choices during this critical time, you should:
- Make it very clear that you do not want her to use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
- Find out if he really understands the consequences of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.
- Get to know her friends by taking them to and from after-school activities, games, the library and movies (while being sensitive to her need to feel independent). Check in with her friends’ parents often to make sure you share the same anti-drug stance.
- Be sure you know his online friends – as well as his other online activities.
- Volunteer for activities where you can observe him at school.
- Hold a weekly family meeting to check in with each other and address problems or concerns.
- Get your kids involved with adult supervised after-school activities.
- Give kids who are unsupervised after school a schedule of activities, limits on the behavior, household chores to accomplish and a strict “phone to check in with you” policy.
- Make it easy for your child to leave a situation where alcohol, tobacco or other drugs are being used.
- Call kids’ parents if their home is to be used for a party get assurance that no alcoholic beverages or illegal substances will be at the party.
- Set curfews and enforce them.
- Encourage open dialogue with your children about their experiences
Middle School Challenges:
For parents, this is a pivotal time in helping kids make positive choices when faced with drugs and alcohol. The average age kids try drugs for the first time is 13. But you can help your teen stay healthy and drug-free and beat the negative statistics. Kids who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use. So stay involved. Young teens may say they don’t need your guidance, but they are much more open to it than they’ll ever admit. Make sure you talk to them about their choices of friends drug use in teens often starts as a social behavior.
Five tips to help your teen live a healthy, drug free life:
- Make sure your teen knows your rules and consequences for breaking those rules- and, most importantly, that you really will enforce those consequences if the rules are broken.
- Let your teen in on all the things you find wonderful about him. Positive reinforcement can go a long way n preventing drug use among teens.
- Show interest and discuss your child’s daily ups and downs. You’ll earn your child’s trust, learn how to talk to each other and won’t take your child by surprise when you voice a strong point of view about drugs.
- Tell your teen about the negative effect that prescription and over the counter medications can have on physical appearance. Teens are extremely concerned with their physical appearance.
- Don’t leave your child’s anti-drug education up to her school. Ask your teen what she’s learned about drugs in school and then continue with that topic or introduce new topics.