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Parents

You are the most important influence in your child's life. Here's everything you need to know about alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs.

Parents

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There were 10 million individuals between the ages of 12 and 20 who reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Research shows that the earlier an individual begins drinking, the more likely they are to become dependent on alcohol.

 

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Ways Children and Teens Are Affected by Alcohol:

  • Unintentional accidents (falls, drownings, car accidents)
  • Depression and suicide
  • Violence (fighting, homicide)
  • Academic performance suffers

Even when your children turn 19 years old and move out of the house or go off to college, they are still not of legal drinking age. Some parents may view drinking alcohol as a rite of passage for this age group, but the risks are still the same. Never provide alcohol to a minor. Aside from being potentially harmful, adults who procure alcohol for a minor in Nebraska can face serious penalties, including felony charges and jail time.

YOU are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing underage alcohol use.

 
whatyoucando-icon  What You Can Do:
  • Talk openly with your kids regarding underage alcohol use
  • Develop family rules and consequences regarding underage alcohol use
  • Know your children's friends and communicate with their parents about any parties or outings
  • Report underage drinking: 1-866-MUST-B-21 (1-866-687-8221)
 
resources-icon  Resources for Conversations with Your Kids:
  • White Sands Treatment Center: Provides an interactive lesson guide for parents and teachers to teach kids about drugs and alcohol.  
  • Talk. They Hear You: SAMHSA's underage drniking prevention campaign helps parents and caregivers start talking to their children early about the dangers of alcohol.  
 



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Of all the illicit drugs, marijuana is the most widely used. If your child is exposed to drugs, he or she will most likely be offered marijuana.

  • One joint can deliver four times as much cancer-causing tar as one tobacco cigarette.
  • Marijuana can hinder a teen's ability to learn. Heavy marijuana use impairs young people's ability to concentrate and retain information.
  • The marijuana that teens use today has more than twice the concentration of THC, the chemical that affects the brain, than marijuana did 20 years ago.
  • Research shows that marijuana use is three times more likely to lead to dependence among adolescents than among adults. The earlier kids start using marijuana, the more likely they are to become dependent on it or other illicit drugs later in life.
  • In a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a moderate dose of marijuana alone was shown to impair driving performance; the effects of a low dose of marijuana combined with alcohol were markedly greater than for either substance alone.
  • Marijuana can lead to depression. Young people who use marijuana weekly have double the risk of depression later in life and are three times more likely than non-users to have suicidal thoughts.

 

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Be the Difference
Talk to your teen about the facts about marijuana. You are the most important influence in your teen's life when it comes to drugs. Teens who learn about the risks from their parents are less likely to smoke marijuana or use other drugs than teens who don't. 

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Drug Facts:

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Talking to Your Teen:

 

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These days, teens don't have to go out looking for drugs; they can just go to the medicine cabinet. Even as teen use of street drugs is on the decline, the abuse of prescription drugs is increasing. More teens abuse prescription drugs than any other illicit drug except marijuana. In 2008, more than 2.1 million teens aged 12 to 17 reported abusing prescription drugs. Among 12- and 13-year-olds, prescription drugs are the drug of choice.

Teens are abusing both prescription and over-the-counter drugs to get high. This includes painkillers, such as those drugs prescribed after surgery; depressants, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs; and stimulants, such as those drugs prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); as well as over-the-counter drugs, such as cough and cold remedies.

Because these drugs are so readily available and many teens believe they are a safe way to get high, teens who wouldn't otherwise touch illicit drugs might abuse prescription drugs. Although teens report that parental disapproval is a powerful way to keep them away from drugs, not many parents are talking about it.

 

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Be the Difference
Here are some things you can do immediately:

  • Safeguard all drugs at home. Monitor quantities and control access.
  • Properly conceal and dispose of old or unneeded medicines. Look for locally scheduled prescription drug take-back events. You can also dispose of drugs in the trash. To make sure that teens or others don't take them out of the trash, mix them with an undesirable substance (like used coffee grounds or kitty litter) and put the mixture in an empty can or bag. Unless the directions say otherwise, do NOT flush medications down the drain or toilet because the chemicals can pollute the water supply. Also, remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you throw them away.
  • Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well.
  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  • Set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider's advice and dosages. Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines.