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Family Based Drug Prevention
Drug abuse is among the leading causes of preventable and premature disability and death in the country. In particular, young people in the US are the most at-risk and vulnerable segment of the population - particularly because of their relatively higher risk of developing substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders later in life. Further, such abuse often affects them in more significant ways.
Today, research studies consistently show that teen drug abuse can be prevented - hence the need for family based drug prevention. To this end, it is imperative that families use a variety of interventions to respond to protective and risk factors - including those that function in the various stages of the development of these young people.
Although societal, community, school, peer, and family levels matter in equal measure, families, in particular, have a significant influence on growing children and developing teens. As such, they can effectively impact the ability of these at-risk groups to say no to alcohol and drugs.
Further, parents and older siblings can positively influence their children to make good choices - which could make a world of difference in their lives. In particular, parents can play a significant role in family based drug prevention - primarily by helping them to seek assistance through addiction treatment and rehabilitation if they have already been initiated into drug use.
Understanding Family Based Drug Prevention
Talking with children about the various dangers of drug and alcohol use - as well as showing disappointment and disapproval of this type of behavior - is essential to shaping the behavior and attitude of children.
As a parent, it is also critical that you stay involved in the day to day activities of your family. According to research, there are many different steps that you can positively take to help your children resist any pressure they encounter to start using drugs, as well as help them if they have already begun to abusing these intoxicating and mind altering drugs (or progressed along the road to addiction). In the case of marijuana use that is quickly gaining traction among the young, in particular, you should also learn the risks it poses to the brains of teens.
Some of the steps you can take towards family based drug prevention, therefore, include:
- Being increasingly involved and engage in your children's lives
- Knowing your children's friends, peers, and acquaintances, as well as anyone else they spend their time with
- Learning about the consequences of drug use
- Determining the major risk factors that come with drug and alcohol abuse among children and teens
- Learning the signs and symptoms of drug abuse among children, as well as how you ought to respond
- Making definite statements of your disapproval of substance abuse
- Minimizing the risk of your child feeling stressed and depressed at home
Risk Factors For Substance Abuse Among The Youth
As we mentioned earlier, one of the essential aspects of family based drug prevention revolves around understanding the risk factors for drug abuse. Today, many factors are linked with increasing the risk for substance abuse among children and teens.
In particular, these factors are:
- Biological (psychiatric disorders, and genetic factors)
- Environment (low or high socioeconomic status)
- Psychological (including poor self-control, aggressive and violent behavior, and low self-esteem)
As a parent, it is important to learn about the risks that come with abusing specific drugs. You might also want to teach yourself how to help your children gain a better understanding of the risks and poor health that come with substance abuse.
Among the factors that might influence your children to start or refuse to use intoxicating and mind-altering substances is the extent to which they can believe that these substances are harmful.
The 2013 NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) reported that when young people between the ages of 12 and 17 were asked about the risks and harm that come with drug use, they responded in the following ways:
- 65.7% said that there was great risk in smoking cigarettes
- 63.9% said that there was great risk in drinking four or five alcoholic beverages nearly daily
- 39.7% said that there was great risk in having more than five alcoholic drinks more than once a week
- For marijuana, 43.6% of these young people perceived there was a significant risk in smoking weed more than once a week
- 26.5% said that there was great risk in smoking weed once a month
- The perceived risks for other drugs were considered to be much higher (with heroin 80%, cocaine at 78.9%, and LSD at 70.6%)
More importantly, with respect to family based drug prevention, the survey found that the use of all these intoxicating substances tended to be lower among the young people who thought that such use was risky than among those who did not see the risks posed by drugs. As such, it is clear that parents have an important role to play in helping their children understand that using substances is risky and can cause serious harm.
While trying to teach your children about the harm associated with substance abuse, you might want to be aware of any diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and PD (personality disorders like oppositional defiant disorder).
It is also important to check if there are any first degree relatives in the family with a drug or alcohol use disorder and monitor your children to ensure that they do not use drugs/alcohol at home or beyond. Where possible, inform yourself of failing grades, check if your children spend time with friends who use substances, and find out if they have access to drugs (such as if a drug dealer approached them).
In any case, family-based drug prevention will require that you counter all these risk factors to protect your children. If possible, consider involving them in religion, engaging them in extracurricular activities, and exposing them to substance abuse prevention programs and messages. You can also let them know that you disapprove of substance abuse.
Effects Of Drugs On The Young
When children and teens are introduced to substance use early in their lives, they are highly likely to suffer adverse consequences later on. Such drug abuse often comprises their ability to work effectively, play their roles in the family, achieve in the educational sphere, and avoid intoxicating substances.
As you try to work on family based drug prevention, therefore, it is imperative that you learn all you can about drugs and substance use among the youth. This will help you prepare how you are going to talk to your children and to help them protect themselves from the influence of drugs.
According to recent data, more than 90% of all young people believe that their parents strongly disapprove of substance abuse - whether such abuse involves marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco cigarettes. Additionally, research shows that young people between the ages of 12 and 17 who held the belief that their parents would disapprove strongly of them using certain drugs had a lesser likelihood of using them in comparison to those who believed that their parents would neither disapprove nor approve, or somewhat disapprove.
The Difference Parents Can Make
To further reduce or eliminate the risk that your children will start using mind-altering substances, it is imperative that you prove supportive parenting, involve yourself in their lives, and monitor their behavior, activities, and associations.
As a parent, therefore, you might want to limit the amount that your child spends going out with their friends (particularly on school nights), check on and help them with their homework, ensure that they participate in chores at home, and express your approval when they behave appropriately. If possible, you can also limit the time they spend on cell phones, social media, computer, and television - unless such time is spent constructively and for educational purposes.
Research studies now show that parents who frequently help their children with homework can effectively reduce the use of illicit drugs. Further, young people who spend significant amounts of time on social media had a higher likelihood of getting involved with drugs and other criminal activity.
The Influence Of Peers
For many growing children, peer groups and friends are important and strong influences - particularly where drug use is concerned. Teens, for instance, with friends who use substances have a high likelihood of starting to use themselves. This is because their friends might supply them with the drugs they need.
Friends also act as role models in shaping substance use behavior, belief systems surrounding such use, and the positive attributes of substances. Some of them even normalize drug use. The use of drugs among friends, therefore, can predict the problematic outcomes arising from drug use.
While focusing on family-based drug prevention, therefore, it is imperative that you intervene early on these peer-influenced risk factors instead of waiting until it is too late for your child to change their path away from these problems and towards more positive behavior.
As a parent, therefore, you might want to monitor your children and the people they spend the greatest amount of time with. You should also supervise their friendships - with a view to prevent drug abuse.
If possible, set rules about the activities that your children can engage in, monitor their friends and any social activities they engage in, and discipline them to enforce any family rules you have set. All these interventions could potentially reduce these risks and protect your children against drug and alcohol abuse.
Stress At Home
Many of the factors that your children experience at home can influence and shape their attitudes towards drugs. Among the risk factors for substance abuse in the home environment include but are not limited to:
- Giving children permission and unlimited access to social networks
- Living with parents and other adults who abuse drugs and alcohol
- Parental depression
- Parental neglect
- Physical abuse
- Providing mixed and confusing messages about substance abuse - mainly if the parents also use
- Psychological abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Witnessing fights and disagreements at home
While striving for family based drug prevention, therefore, it is imperative that you modify all of these factors. You should also focus on improving the home environment in ways that can help your children stay away from drugs and alcohol.
Signs Of Substance Abuse
There are some signs that can let you know that your child could be using drugs. Learning how to recognize these factors could potentially help you protect your children and get them the help they need. Some of these signs include:
- Becoming less open and more secretive
- Changes in personality
- Changing friends, behavior, clothing, and social groups
- Changing sleep patterns, characterized by unusually long, irregular, and short sleep
- Declining grades
- Declining personal hygiene
- Deteriorating relationships
- Difficulties paying attention
- Dishonesty about activities, money, and whereabouts
- Increased socialization
- Losing interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Loss of motivation and ambition
- Memory loss
- Neglecting school work
- Panic attacks
- Persistent behavioral and personality changes
- Poor judgment
- Poor problem solving skills
- Red and bloodshot eyes
- Reduced inhibitions
- Reduced inhibitions
- Slow movement
- Stealing money
- Unexplained changes in appetite
- Unwarranted laughter
- Worrying health issues
If you notice any of these signs, it could point to the fact that they have started using. However, before you accuse them, you should first try and find out why they are displaying these signs. If it is linked to substance abuse, get them to a drug treatment facility so that they can receive the help they need before they sink further into their addiction.
Overall, family based drug prevention is essential. However, it does not always work - especially for teens who have other influences that could potentially be more important to them than their parents and family. As a direct result, you should learn how to intervene and get your children the professional help they might need - especially if you suspect that your prevention efforts are not working.
Make The Right Choice. Get Help Now.
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