Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Keeping your kids drug-free!

- Vicente G. (Tico) Aldanese -

Part 1 of 3 parts

By the time your child reaches the age of nine or 10, you’ve probably taught him or her right from wrong, basic safety rules, good health habits, and how to make friends and get along with others.  You’ve already done a lot of good things. Before your child becomes a teenager, you also should enhance the communication skills you already have to increase the chances of keeping your child drug-free.

There are opportunities everyday to turn ordinary times like driving your child to school or doing household chores together into teachable moments to let your child know what is important to you. As your kids move from gradeschool to high school, it’s important to keep talking to them about the harm that drugs, tobacco and underage drinking can do to their young lives.  Just a little of your time every once in a while can make a lifetime of difference. Kids who learn about the risks of drug abuse from their parents or caregivers are less likely to use drugs than kids who do not.  Studies show: a) Kids are about 36 percent less likely to smoke marijuana; b) 50 percent less likely to use inhalants, c) 56 percent less likely to use cocaine or methamphetamines, d) and 65 percent less likely to use LSD.

It makes sense that your child is more likely to stay drug-free when he or she talks to you because they pay attention to what you say and do. Children look to parents for information about life decisions and choices, such as how to succeed in school and why they shouldn’t use drugs. They look to other kids for information about popular culture, such as fashion fads or what is cool. Amelie Ramirez (a doctor of public health and a drug-prevention specialist) says “Most kids don’t want to disappoint their families. Parents who send a clear message of ‘no drug use’ are setting expectations for their kids, and this will help their kids stay away from drugs.”

“Everybody thinks their kid is beyond taking drugs…Nobody is beyond it. Everyday it seems that we hear about this kid using a new drug.  Although the drugs change over time, alcohol is still the most widely used substance among teens worldwide, followed by tobacco and marijuana.  Some kids have even sniffed glue or other household products such as spray paint, shoe polish, gasoline and lighter fluid. While this may sound discouraging to you, take heart. Two thirds of kids say that losing their parents’ respect and pride is one of the main reasons they don’t smoke marijuana or use other drugs, So, your words and actions matter.

1. Learn Fact about drugs and what it can do to a person. (Teens who learn anti-drug messages at home are 42 percent less likely to use drugs.)  Then talk to your child about it.

In conversations with your child, steer the subject to drugs and why they’re harmful. If you can ingrain this information in your children well before they are faced with making difficult choices, experts say they’ll be more likely to avoid rather than use. In fact, teenagers who say they’ve learned a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are much less likely to try marijuana than those who say they’ve learned nothing from them.

You don’t need to fear that by introducing the topic of drugs, you’re “putting ideas” into your children’s heads, any more than talking about traffic safety might make them want to jump in front of a car. You’re letting them know about potential dangers in their environment so that when they’re confronted with them, they’ll know what to do.

Children in late elementary school need to be warned specifically about not using inhalants. There are a number of common household substances that some young people of this age will try inhaling. Parents must be encouraged to warn their children that even one instance of inhaling can lead to severe brain damage or even death.

Parents should also use some of their good conversation time with children and adolescents to make it clear that they don’t want them to use marijuana. Parents should state clearly to their pre-teens and teens that they would be very disappointed if they started using marijuana.

Parents may also want to explain that marijuana use interferes with young people’s concentration, memory, and motor skills, and that it interferes with motivation, leads to poorer school performance, and can cause users to disappoint the people most important to them. All of this can be communicated in a loving way: “I love you and I want the best for you, so I hope you won’t try marijuana.”

Introducing the topic of drugs

If you hear something you don’t like (perhaps a friend smokes marijuana or your child confesses to trying beer at a party), it is important not to react in any way that cuts off further discussion. If he seems defensive or assures you that he doesn’t know anyone who uses drugs, ask him why he thinks people use them.

Discuss whether the risks are worth what people may get out of using them and whether he thinks it would be worth it to take the risks. Even without addiction, experimentation is too great a gamble. One bad experience, such as being high and misjudging how long it takes to cross a busy street, can change - or end - a life forever. If something interrupts your conversation, pick it up the next chance you get.

You may inform them of matters such as:

•The psychical effects of inhalants can include hearing loss, limb spasms and damage to the central nervous system, brain, bone marrow liver and kidney.

•Club drugs such as ecstasy, Methamphetamins and Cocaine can lead to depression, drug cravings, paranoia, psychotic episodes and dangerous increases in heart rate and blood pressure.

•Marijuana can lead to Respiratory problems and forgetfulness.

•Alcohol abuse can cause liver, kidney and heart problems.

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