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By MATT LIPE
Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County
Summer is nearly here. School will be out and teenagers will have a lot of leisure time. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more teenagers try marijuana for the first time during the summer than at any other time of year.
Leisure time can lead to boredom, which leads teenagers fo find ways to engage their lives. For many, this means turning to drugs and alcohol. As parents, you can help your vulnerable children by engaging them in positive activities.
Encourage your teen to find a job, or send them to a summer camp, sign them up for free programs through the local Extension office or library, or have them volunteer at a local community agency.
Schedule time for family activites and establish and adhere to a summer curfew.
Check in with your teen regularly during the summer. Research shows that teens who are involved in activities with their parents, involved in constructive activities, or involved in adult-supervised activities use drugs less than those who are not.
Summer is a great time to visit colleges. Summer is a great time to fish and to camp. Summer is a great time to learn new skills. Summer is a great time to volunteer.
The role parents play in keeping children away from drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes is vital. Joseph Califano of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse believes parents are the most under-utilized resource in preventing drug abuse.
The prevention of substance abuse must start in the home; it is not the responsibility of the government or law enforcement. It is only when the cause is lost in the home that the government and law enforcement become involved.
Children learn values and behaviors by watching role models. Parents are the most important role models in a child’s life. Every time you have an ache or pain, do you reach for the Aleve, aspirin, or another form of pain reliever? Children notice if you do.
Do you need a drink to ease the tensions of the day or in order to relax enough to have fun? Children notice if you do.
Substance abuse does not occur only with troubled teens; every child can be a victim or a participant. To help keep your child safe and substance free:
• Keep your medications under lock and key.
• Tell your children you want them to be substance-free.
• Emphasize good choices.
• Encourage children to develop friendships with other children.
• Be involved and involve your children in organized activities.
• Follow exact dosages when administering medications to your children.
• Provide consistent discussion about being drug-free.
• Do not give your child medication prescribed for another person.
• If you are taking a prescribed medication for high blood pressure or any other chronic health condition, talk with your children about the importance of following doctor’s orders to stay healthy.
• When your child approaches his teen years, discuss your thoughts and your child’s thoughts about drug use.
• Talk about peer pressure and help them learn how not to be negatively influenced by their peers.
• If your child appears to be experimenting with substances, don’t overreact; emphasize the importance of being substance-free.
• Set boundaries for teenagers and establish clear consequences.
• Make your home and cars drug-free areas.
• Keep yourself educated about drug trends in the community.
Matthew Lipe is coordinator of Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County, a nonprofit organization working to encourage positive decision-making in the fight against drugs. Through summer programming and events held throughout the year, Champions is trying to eliminate the drug problem in Carroll County.