PARENTS

SUBSTANCE USE PREVENTION STARTS AT HOME

Parents, caregivers, and other responsible adults are the key to healthy behaviors and substance use prevention.

Adults are uniquely positioned to make a difference in the lives of young people. Teenagers may be curious about drugs or alcohol and may or may not ask parents for advice. It is important for adults to be knowledgeable and prepared to answer questions, or, to be able to start “the conversation”.

Keeping track of where your kids are and who they are with, setting and adhering to rules about drugs and alcohol, preventing access to substances, and talking and listening openly with young people about substance use are all ways you can show up for your kids.

DID YOU KNOW?

Substance use before the age of 18 is one of the strongest predictors for development of a substance abuse disorder in adulthood.

9 OUT OF 10 PEOPLE WITH SUBSTANCE PROBLEMS STARTED USING BEFORE AGE 18

UNDERAGE SUBSTANCE USE IN OSSINING

THE GOOD NEWS

28%

Alcohol use by Ossining students is down by 28% since 2003. Cigarette smoking rates are low. Marijuana use is lower than national norms.

THE CHALLENGE

34%

Up to 34% of kids report using energy drinks in the past 30 days. E-cig use is on the rise. Binge drinking and alcohol use in general exceed national norms.

THE ADOLESCENT BRAIN: CHANGES IN BRAIN DEVELOPMENT AND FUNCTION FROM DRUG ABUSE

Most kids grow dramatically during the adolescent and teen years. Their young brains, particularly the prefrontal cortex that is used to make decisions, are growing and developing, until their mid-20’s.

Long-term drug use causes brain changes that can set people up for addiction and other problems. Once a young person is addicted, his or her brain changes so that drugs are now the top priority. He or she will compulsively seek and use drugs even though doing so brings devastating consequences to his or her life, and for those who care about him.

READ THE FULL STUDY

PARTS OF THE HUMAN BRAIN

Infographic showing how drugs and alcohol affect the developing brain.

PARTS OF THE HUMAN BRAIN

Alcohol can interfere with developmental processes occurring in the brain. For weeks or months after a teen stops drinking heavily, parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. Drinking at a young age is also associated with the development of alcohol dependence later in life.

Learn more about how drugs and alcohol affect the developing brain.

ENERGY DRINKS: DID YOU KNOW?

Scientific evidence is growing that energy drinks can have serious health effects particularly in young people, according to the National Institutes of Health .
Many of them contain large amounts of caffeine that can cause health problems or disrupt sleep cycles.
They often contain very high amounts of sugar. Mixing them with drugs or alcohol is especially dangerous.

Consider discussing energy drink use with your child’s doctor.

TALK WITH YOUR KIDS ABOUT SUBSTANCE USE

Even if it doesn’t always seem like it, parents have a significant influence in their kids’ decision to experiment with alcohol and other drugs. When you talk to your children, they will hear you.

There are many resources available to parents, caregivers, and other responsible adults to help them:

  • Increase awareness of the risk and consequences of underage use
  • Gain knowledge, skills, and confidence to prevent underage drinking and substance use
  • Take action to prevent underage drinking and use

Actions for Adults

  • Educate yourself on the risks of alcohol, vapes, and drugs
  • Set clear “no use” rules
  • Don’t provide alcohol to young people
  • Prevent access in your home
  • Know your children’s friends and their parents
  • Talk and listen to your kids about drugs and alcohol
  • If you drink, use alcohol responsibly and don’t smoke

GET HELP IF YOU THINK YOUR TEEN IS DRINKING OR USING DRUGS

Notable shifts in behavior such as changes in attitude or personality, moodiness, irritability, nervousness, or even giddiness, could be a sign of early use. Take steps to connect with children and teens every day, as substance use and addiction can be isolating. And seek help. Free resources are available in English and Spanish.

FREE RESOURCES

Substance Use Warning Signs

  • Sudden change in friends; new hangouts
  • Change or loss of interest in activities, hobbies, or sports
  • Drop in grades or work performance
  • Avoiding family or family events
  • Stealing

Physical Warning Signs of Substance Use

  • Loss or increase in appetite; unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Inability to sleep or unusual laziness
  • The smell of substance on breath or clothes
  • Nausea, vomiting, sweating, shaking of hands, feet or head
  • Red, watery eyes; pupils larger or smaller than usual; blank stare

TEENS AND MENTAL HEALTH

Adolescence and early adulthood can be challenging times but sometimes the ups and downs can point to something more. Some young people use drugs or alcohol to cope with mental health or emotional challenges. As a parent or caregiver, you may become aware of certain behaviors and can play a critical role in knowing when a young person needs help. You can talk to your child’s doctor and also start a conversation with your child about what is happening. There are lots of ways to support your child and get them help.

FREE RESOURCES

TAKE ACTION

Help is available to families and teens struggling with substance use or mental health issues.

Never hesitate to call 911 if you are witnessing or experiencing a drug- or alcohol-related emergency.

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JUST SO YOU KNOW

Westchester County has a social host law which “establishes fines for knowingly allowing a party, gathering, or event where minors are present and alcoholic beverages are consumed by one or more minors.” Parents can be liable for allowing the party in their home even if they do not provide the alcohol. If you know about it, you are obligated to do something to stop it. Depending on the number of prior offenses, punishment ranges from fines to possible imprisonment.

Furthermore, the laws impose civil liability on those who permit underage drinking in their home; they may be held responsible for any resulting damage or injury. Parents have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of underage persons while on their property or under their care, custody and control. Parents have a duty to monitor parties hosted by their children.

LEARN MORE

NICOTINE & VAPING

Nicotine and vaping are addictive, yet e-cig use is on the rise among young people.

Learn More

Marijuana

Make sense of the differing messages about marijuana: health effects, legalization and more.

Learn More

Alcohol

Underage drinking can cause short-term and long-term problems for individuals, families, and communities.

Learn More

Mental Health

Mental health issues are common but all too often go overlooked and untreated.

Learn More

SPECIAL COVID INFORMATION

Source for COVID content:

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

SPECIAL COVID INFORMATION

The COVID pandemic is causing uncertainty and stress for families across the country. Parents can be especially affected as they cope with their children’s stress, jobs, housing, and education.

Children of different ages exhibit different reactions to the outbreak and its impact on their daily lives and families. But families can take steps to help them cope, including maintaining routines, encouraging communication and addressing misinformation, and exhibiting patient, tolerance and reassurance.

And extra help is available if you need it. SAMHSA has trained counselors at SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUS 66746

Access tips for coping with COVID here:

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