Sometimes life kicks you in the stomach. You feel helpless. You feel afraid. You feel alone. That’s how I feel right now.
I have just attended the funeral of someone very dear to me. He died from a drug overdose. I feel sick. I can’t breathe. He was only 30 years old. I can’t get his face out of my mind.
It Can Happen to You
If you think this can’t happen to your child, you are wrong. Kids have no idea what they are getting into when they drink their first drink or smoke their first joint.
A child who gets to age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so. [i]
As a prevention professional, I am dedicated to educating parents and students on the real life consequences of underage drinking and drug use. Too many parents don’t realize that they have a tremendous influence on their teens, and that they have the power to steer them away from experimenting with drugs, underage drinking and other risky behaviors.
It may not sound like much, but being a responsible adult is a good place to start.
Watch What You Do, They’re Watching You, Influence Responsibly is a call for adults to take the lead when setting an example for children. Parents remain the most influential individuals in their child’s life. Every day a parent can take a proactive first step and make the decision to behave in a way that supports their child’s health and wellbeing. Stand Together Make a Difference (STMAD), Danbury’s local substance abuse prevention coalition, and the Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism (MCCA) are launching this campaign as part of their ongoing mission to reduce underage drinking in the City of Danbury.
If a child starts drinking before the age of 15, he or she is four times more likely to develop a lifelong dependency on alcohol.[ii]
What Can You Do
Anyone can fall into the arms of addiction. Addiction holds you tight, fulfills a need and even says, “I’m here to help you.” So, what can you do to help keep your kids safe?
- Avoid drinking in front of children or at least avoid drinking too much.
- Refrain from drinking and
- Talk your teen and demonstrate positive healthy ways to deal with hurt and
- Educate yourself about the consequences of underage drinking and drug use.
Until your teen is in their mid to late twenties, their brain is still developing. This means that what a teen allows their brain to experience at a young age can affect the way in which their brain develops. Adults can influence this developmental process in a positive way by helping children make age-appropriate decisions, modeling healthy behavior and talking to their children.
This article was written by Terry Budlong, MCCA Director of Prevention Services and Co–Chair for STMAD. The goal of prevention services in Danbury is to help keep youth safe through education. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.standtogetherdanbury.org. Connect with us on Face book at facebook.com/STMAD.Danbury.