Parents Guide for Protecting Their
Children From Using Alcohol and Other Drugs
"People often ask me why
I think parents are the answer, and I think it's because we have the most to lose. Schools
can help, churches can help, law enforcement can help, but no one can replace the family.
Being involved with drug and alcohol prevention lets our children know that we care. It
strengthens the family and helps us to be the kind of parents our children need us to
Gail Amato, president of the Bowling Green Parents for Drug-Free Youth
Table of Contents
The Problem is
Research suggests that most teenagers who are problem drinkers are not simply going
through a phase. Instead, kids who abuse alcohol often see their drinking problems
and mental health worsen as they age. Rather than going through a phase that they
will out grow, the studies indicate that their drinking and mental health problems will
get worse with age if left untreated.
In such a study, 940 high school students were followed until age 24. Researchers found
that those high school students with diagnosed alcohol problems were at increased risk for
further drinking problems, other substance abuse, depression, and personality disorders as
they got older. These risks were also elevated among kids with symptoms, but no diagnosis,
of problem drinking.
When the researchers
followed these kids over time, they found that their problems did not decrease. Instead,
adolescent drinking problems foretold problems in adulthood. In addition, the researchers
found that subjects whose fathers had an alcohol use disorder were about 60% more likely
than others to have a problem themselves.
Now most parents
cant imagine their children lighting up a joint, smoking a pipe of crack, snorting
heroin, or taking a hit of Ecstasy. Only 20 percent of parents think their kids may have
been offered illicit drugs; yet 53 percent of teens report having been offered an illicit
substance. The average age at which teens start using tobacco is 12. The average age at
which they start drinking is almost 13. And the average age at which they start smoking
pot is 14.
The extent of alcohol consumption by children ages 9 to 15 is startling, and preventing it
must become a national priority. Consider these facts:
1.) 3 million children
ages 14 through 17 are regular drinkers who already have a confirmed alcohol problem.
2.) 24 percent of
eighth graders say they have used alcohol in the last 30 days.
3.) More than 100,000
12-13 year-olds binge drink every month.
4.) Ninth graders who
drink are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who don't.
5.) 40 percent of
children who begin drinking before the age of 15 will become alcoholics at some point in
So what can you do to
insure that your children dont become another statistic? Parents play a decisive
role in helping their kids avoid consumption of alcohol and other drugs. Teens who say
they learned a lot about the risks of alcohol and other drugs from their parents are 40
percent less likely to start drinking and use other drugs. The solution is obvious. You
need to talk to your kids about alcohol and other drugs, teach them how to deal with peer
pressure, and boost their self-esteem and self-confidence to reduce the risk that they
will ever try alcohol and other drugs.
At the same time, if
you are like most parents, you probably feel like you could use some help. You know that
your children are surrounded by messages from the movies and videos, from other kids, and
from television that can make drug use look positive and without consequences.
There is no such thing
as a perfect parent, but research has confirmed that there are specific parenting
practices that are highly effective in helping to ensure that children develop skills,
interests, and activities that ultimately keep them from getting involved with alcohol and
other drugs and other problem behaviors. This guide is intended to outline for you how to
parent your child in a way that will maximize the possibility that they will not get
involved with alcohol and other drugs.
Not all children who consumes alcohol and other drugs does so with the intention of
developing a problem or even dependence on alcohol and other drugs. There are stages that
a child will pass through before they become dependent on alcohol and other drugs.
Its the goal of this book to insure that your child starts and stops at stage one:
abstinence from alcohol and other drug consumption.
Stages of consumption for alcohol and other drugs by adolescents.
1.) Stage one: abstinence
2.) Stage two: experimentation
3.) Stage three: regular use either for:
a.) Social or recreational purposes or
b.) Compensatory purposes for other problems such as co-existing emotional
disorders, alienation from family and/or peers, difficulties with school
4.) Stage four: abuse of alcohol and other drugs which is defined as continued use of
alcohol and other drugs despite experiencing negative consequences from consuming alcohol
and other drugs
5.) Stage five: dependence of alcohol and other drugs defined as the presence of such
a.) Impaired control of consumption of alcohol and other drugs
b.) Onset of withdrawal symptoms after abstaining from alcohol and other drugs
c.) Increased tolerance for consumption of alcohol and other drugs
d.) Continued preoccupation with acquiring, consuming, and recovering from ones
consumption of alcohol and other drugs
e.) A strong craving or obsession with consuming alcohol and other drugs
Warning signs of teenage alcohol and other drug abuse.
1.) Low grades or poor
2.) Withdrawal, isolation, depression, or fatigue
3.) Aggressive, rebellious behavior
5.) Excessive influence by peers or a change in friends
6.) Hostility and lack of cooperation
7.) Deteriorating relationships with family
8.) Loss of interest in hobbies or sports
9.) Changes in sleeping and eating habits
10.) Evidence of drugs or paraphernalia
11.) Physical changes such as red eyes, runny nose, frequent sore throats, rapid weight
loss, or bruises from falls
Parents Can Make a Difference
Did you know that children say that the emotional bond that they have with their
parents is the number one deterrent to using alcohol and other drugs. This fact is
demonstrated in survey after survey. In these surveys, parentsnot friends, teachers,
or the mediaare cited as the single biggest determinant in a childs decision
not to use alcohol and other drugs. What makes the relationship between a parent and their
child so impactful is the time a parent spends with a child and the consistency of the
message a parent provides to their child.
How to protect your children from alcohol and other drugs.
1.) Develop a strong, loving relationship with your children.
2.) Set, teach, and model family values.
3.) Articulate and enforce rules for behavior.
4.) Know the facts about alcohol and other drugs.
5.) Improve communication with your children.
Develop a Strong,
Relationship with your children
Although keeping a
child alcohol and other drugs-free is a great challenge to a parent, no one is in a better
position than you to meet this challenge. Studies reveal that teenagers who report feeling
close to their families were the least likely to engage in any of the risky behaviors
studied, which included drinking and smoking marijuana or cigarettes. This finding
supports what a majority of parents believe: that they can teach their children to view
alcohol and other drugs as a serious concern and that they can influence their children's
decisions about whether or not to use drugs.
Ways to build a strong emotional bond with your children.
independent thinking. Teach your children how to think for themselves. From an early
age, teach them how to make age appropriate choices for themselves. Offer encouragement to
make choices. Support their choices where it is appropriate to do so. Teach them the value
of making independent choices rather than deferring to the wishes and desires of others.
This will help them later in life when they are put in a position to choose whats
best for them or succumb to the influence of their peers.
2.) Be clear about
family values. From an early age, children should become practiced at following rules.
The best way to do that is to clearly articulate your family values and the rules that
enforce those values. Along with articulating the values and rules that express those
values, you need to clearly articulate the consequences that go along with breaking the
rules. For example a family value may be that children get a good education. A rule that
enforces that value may be that children must practice reading for twenty minutes an
evening. If a child does not practice reading for twenty-minutes a night, the consequence
will be no dessert at their next meal. As your children become practiced at honoring the
values of the family by following rules, as your children experience the consequences
involved with breaking the rules of the family, they will become practiced decision makers
when confronted with the presence of alcohol and other drugs.
At the same time, be
mindful of how you can sabotage the learning of your children about values if youre
behavior is incongruent with the values. If you pull one of those do as I say and not
as I do routines youll undermine what youre attempting to teach your
children. If your children see you smoking, drinking to excess, or taking drugs, it
undercuts your good intentions to help them avoid consuming alcohol and other drugs.
confidence. Always direct your praise or criticism towards the action and not the
person. You can empower your children by helping them master age appropriate tasks, such
as riding a bicycle, building a model, working on a computer, or reading a book.
healthful activities. You know the old saying about idle time being the devils
playground. Get your children involved in after-school programs or activities at your
church or community center. Children who learn to have fun through activities and
interpersonal relationships will be less vulnerable to needing to cope with stress,
boredom, and emotional duress by consuming alcohol and other drugs.
5.) Be honest.
Honest answers and explanations that your children can understand build trust
between you and your children. Your children need to trust you in order to come to you
when theyre in trouble and need your help.
6.) Begin early.
Its incredible but true: by late elementary school, children begin to see classmates
smoking, drinking and trying drugs. Most children who become drug users begin using drugs
at age 12 or 13 and begin to inhale household products to get high in the 6th or 7th
grades. You must begin talking to your children early and often. Recognize when
theyre being curious. Dont brush them off. Be prepared to answer their
questions. If you dont know the answer to their questions, find out the answers and
report back to them.
7.) Stand firm. Your
children look to you for direction and support. If youre not clear, firm, and
unwavering in your policies about the consumption of alcohol and other drugs, then
theyll be confused by the mixed messages that youre sending to them.
8.) Resist the urge
to threaten or badger. Creating an ongoing dialogue about the dangers of alcohol and
other drugs requires that you remain clam, respectful, and educational. Threats,
interrogations, and criticalness do nothing to maintain an open dialoguewhich is the
sole point of the exercise.
9.) Keep talking.
Be clear about the effort that is required of you. One conversation when your child is
nine will not suffice. You need to maintain a continuing open discussion about alcohol and
other drugs throughout their teen years.
Listen. Listen. Dont forget that as important as it is for you to provide
information and direction, it is equally important that you make room for your children to
talk and for you to do nothing more than listen.
Set, Teach, and Model
You have expectations of behavior for your children. These expectations are a reflection
of your principles and standards. These principles and standards are what make up your
value system. One reason children decide not to consume alcohol and other drugs is because
to do so would violate their familys value system. Therefore, its critical
that you are:
1.) Clear about the values that you have towards the consumption of alcohol and other
2.) Clear about what message(s) you communicate to your children about your values
associated with the consumption of alcohol and other drugs
3.) Clear about what messages your children are receiving about the consumption of alcohol
and other drugs
Ways to clarify your familys values.
and communicate values openly. Identify what values you want your children to embrace and
apply to the living of their lives. Explain to your children the importance of values such
as honesty, taking responsibility for ones actions, and acting assertively.
Explain to your children the importance of choices and how values can help your children
make good choices. Explain to them how choices build on other choicesgood choices
lead to other good choices and bad choices lead to other bad choices.
2.) Be mindful of how your choices impact the develop of your childrens
value system. Children are keen observers of their environment. They observe
their parents behavior and often imitate it. It would not surprise you that children
whose parents smoke are more likely to become smokers. So think about your own consumption
of alcohol and other drugs and prescription medications. How might your consumption of
alcohol and other drugs influence the formation of your childrens attitudes towards
their consumption of alcohol and other drugs.
3.) Make sure
that your words and actions match. If you tell your children not to lie,
are your actions consistent with that message or do you burden them with trying to
understand the more confusing message, Do as I say and not as I do.
4.) Check out
with your children their understanding of what it is that youre attempting to teach
them. Is it safe to assume that your children are understanding you the way that
you intend for them to understand you? You need to continually discuss, clarify, and
reinforce your message in order for you to be assured that your message is being received
the way that youve intended for it to be received. Ask your children to repeat back
to you their understanding of what youve communicated to them. Play what if
with your children by inventing scenarios that test your childrens application of a
value. For instance, what if the cashier at the drug store mistakenly gave your child a
ten dollar bill rather than a one dollar bill. What would child do in that situation.
As a parent, its
your responsibility to set and enforce rules for your children. What are your rules about
your childrens consumption of alcohol and other drug use? Have you established
rules? Have you communicated those rules to your children? Have you thought about how you
intend to enforce those rules? Have you clearly communicated to your children the
consequences that will be implemented if those rules are broken?
Steps to setting and enforcing rules about consumption of alcohol and other drug use by
precise. Dont set your children up to fail. You must:
a.) Specifically and clearly articulate what the rules are.
b.) Explain the reasons for the rules
c.) Explain to your child how they will benefit from following the rules.
c.) Tell your child what behavior is expected.
d.) Tell your child what the consequences of breaking the rules will be.
e.) Tell your child how the consequences will be administered.
f.) Tell your child how much time will be involved with the life span of the consequences.
g.) Tell your child what the punishment is supposed to achieve.
committed and consistent. Children test limits, look for the crack in the plan,
study how they can get around the rules that are being set for them. You need to be
consistent in your application of the dont drink and drug rule as applies to
situations, settings, and with whom your child is spending time. No means no under any and
3.) Be levelheaded. When the time comes to apply the consequences to your child
breaking a rule, you will likely be angry or disappointed at the time. Dont use your
emotions against your child. This is a time to be evenhanded in your dealings with your
child. Dont pile on by grounding your child forever. Dont use intimidation
tactics such as threatening your child. Be calm. Be fair. Carry out the exact consequences
that youve previously discussed with your child.
Knoweldge is Power:
Know the Facts
Knowledge is power. The more you know about alcohol and other drugs, the better able
you will be to:
1.) Intelligently discuss the subject with your children
2.) Educate your children about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs
3.) Recognize the more subtle and hidden signs of alcohol and other drugs if it should
occur with your children.
What all parents need to know about alcohol and other drugs.
1.) Commonly used
alcohol and other drug and the dangers associated with each.
2.) How to identify paraphernalia associated with each drug
3.) The street names of drugs
4.) What drugs look like
5.) The signs of alcohol and other drug use
6.) How to get help promptly if you suspect your child may be using alcohol and other
information on alcohol and other drug use, please use the links listed below:
Communicating With Your Children
Research tells us that
kids who have good communication with their parents have a better chance of avoiding
substance abuse. Families with good communication talk honestly and openly about their
feelings and about such problems as peer pressure, teen pregnancy and drugs. Teens who do
not use or abuse drugs usually feel that their parents love them and trust them. They have
had a say in family rules and have been allowed to make choices appropriate to their ages
If you constantly nag
or make unfounded accusations, your son may feel that you neither love nor trust him. He
needs to hear you say that you worry because you love him, not because you don't trust
him. Expect his best, not his worst
Listen to your kids.
Student surveys reveal that when parents listen to kids' concerns and feelings, kids feel
more comfortable and are more likely to stay drug-free. Kids who receive lots of love and
attention from parents feel more secure and have a higher sense of self-esteem. When they
confront new or stressful situations, they are less likely to turn to alcohol and other
prevents parents from talking with their children about alcohol and other drugs. Parents
are afraid that they:
1.) Dont know what to say
2.) Dont know how to say what needs to be said.
3.) Will put ideas into their heads about consuming alcohol and other drugs
Most parents wrongly
believe that their children already know what they need to know about alcohol and other
drugs. They assume that they are learning all that they need to know at school and from
their peers. But study after study reveals that teenagers believe that they are both
misinformed and/or not informed at all.
Use these findings to grab the bull by the horns. Take it upon yourself to educate your
children about alcohol and other drugs. Make the time to discuss with them the concerns
you have about alcohol and drugs. Make the time to listen with then about their concerns
about alcohol and other drugs.
Dont wait until there is a problem. Start talking to your children when theyre
young. Dont discuss the subject once and assume that thats the only time
youll need to talk to them about alcohol and other drugs.
Ways to improve talking with your child about alcohol and other drugs.
1.) Be willing to listen more and lecture less. Your child needs to
believe that youre a safe person to talk to.
To enable your child to feel safe coming to you with their questions and concerns:
a.) Listen closely to what your child says.
b.) Don't dump anger or disappointment on your child about what you may be hearing.
c.) If it will help diffuse the feelings being provoked by the discussion, take a short
break until your and/or your child can settle down.
d.) Be attuned to not only what your child is saying but what your child is NOT saying.
e.) Dont assume a hands-off approach by waiting for your child to always come
to you. Check in with your child. See how theyre doing. See if there is any problems
that theyre wrestling with that you may be able to help them with.
f.) Be available when your child says that they need to talk to. Dont brush them
off. Dont ask them to wait until theres a better time for you. If your child
wants to discuss something at a time when you cant give it full attention, explain
why you can't talk, set a time to talk later, and then carry through on it!
2.) Be an
encouraging parent. Encourage your children when they need a little boost to get
over the hump. Praise them for actions that are noteworthy. Dont focus exclusively
on those things that you judge to be bad or wrong.
3.) Give unambiguous messages. Dont equivocate. Dont hem and
haw. Your children look to you to provide leadership. Leadership is most effectively
provided by clear messages that dont create confusion or double binds of damn if
you do, damn if you dont.
appropriate behavior. It is critical that you not only talk the talk but walk the walk.
Make sure that your own actions reflect the standards of behavior that you expect from
Communication tips that can make your communication with your children more successful.
1.) Pay attention.
2.) Don't interrupt.
3.) Don't prepare what you will say while your child is speaking.
4.) Reserve judgment until your child has finished and has asked you for a response.
5.) Be aware of your child's facial expression and body language. Is your child nervous or
uncomfortablefrowning, drumming fingers, tapping a foot, looking at the clock? Or
does your child seem relaxedsmiling, looking you in the eyes? Reading these signs
will help parents know how the child is feeling.
6.) During the conversation, acknowledge what your child is sayingmove your body
forward if you are sitting, touch a shoulder if you are walking, or nod your head and make
7.) Respond rather Than react to your child. For example: I am very
concerned about... or I understand that it is sometimes difficult... are
better ways to respond to your child than beginning sentences with You should,
or If I were you, or When I was your age we didn't... Speaking for
oneself sounds thoughtful and is less likely to be considered a lecture or an automatic
8.) If your child tells you something you don't want to hear, don't ignore the statement.
9.) Don't offer advice in response to every statement your child makes. It is better to
listen carefully to what is being said and try to understand the real feelings behind the
10.) Make sure you understand what your child means. Repeat things to your child for
Applying the Principles
How and what you
discuss with your child should be dependent on what age your child is. Please remember
that your child is never too young to learn:
1.) Skills that will empower them to make good choices about the consumption of alcohol
and other drugs
2.) Attitudes and beliefs about the consumption of alcohol and other drugs
3.) Information about what substances pose dangers to your child and what substances are
healthy for your child to consume.
You can never discuss alcohol and other drugs with your child. Once is not enough!
Below are suggestions for age appropriate strategies for the ongoing education of your
Although preschoolers are not ready to learn the facts about alcohol and other drugs, you
can begin teaching the attitudes and habits that will empower them make good choices later
on in their life.
Children need to be
equipped with a skill set that will enable them to make decisions and solve problems that
will allow them to not fall prey to the pressures of their peers. Thus, you can begin
working with your preschooler on activities that will enable them to begin making choices
for themselves as well as asserting themselves. Bear in mind, children at this age are
more interested in doing for themselves rather than listening to someone talking at them.
Let your child to learn how to make good decisions by doing.
Suggestions for empowering your child to make good choices and solve interpersonal
1.) Make time for you
and your child to play together, take a walk together, or do some other activity like
reading a book together. By devoting your full attention to your child during these
activities you are creating the bond necessary for your child to feel loved, respected,
and valued by you.
2.) Educate your child
about the toxic substances you keep in your house. Examples of these would be cleaning
products, paint, gas cans, and bleach. Read the warning labels to your child. Help them
understand the dangers of these products and the reasons that you keep them stored out of
the reach of your child.
3.) Educate your child
about medicines that you have in your house. Teach your child not to take anything from a
medicine bottle unless you give it to them or some other person(s) that you tell your
child may give medicine to your child.
4.) Educate your child
about the value of proper nutrition. Talk to them about the dangers of ingesting foods and
substances that are not good for them as well as the benefits of ingesting substances that
are good for them.
5.) Educate your child
about the behaviors that you expect. Discuss with your child the basics of how to get
along with other childrentreat others the way you would like to be treated, play
fair, share things, be honest.
6.) Educate your child
about the importance of following directions. Games are a good way to begin teaching them
about rules and procedures. If you cook with your child, the importance of following the
recipe is a good way to help them learn the importance of following directions.
7.) Use your childs experiences of frustration when playing or trying something new,
to learn how to solve problems and handle the frustration of not being able to immediately
master an activity.
8.) Use the choosing
of what clothes to wear, what games to play, or how best to spend time together as an
opportunity for your child to practice making choices. Dont focus on the quality of
the choice, as much a praise the act of making a choice.
Your child who is
between the ages of five and nine tends to feel good about themself. Growing up is an
adventure that they are enjoying. School is a fun place to play, learn, and socialize with
their peers. Thinking and learning is still experiential. The here-and-now is where they
live without little regard for the future. Fact and fantasy blend together. Their world
view is dominated by how they wish things to be rather than how things actually are.
Because of this, children are best helped with rules that structure their behavior and
information in order to make good choices.
Discussions about alcohol and other drugs for this age group should be here-and-now
focused. The underlying theme of discussing alcohol and other drugs with this age group is
good health. Teaching children choices that will assure good health while avoiding choices
that will undermine good health can be a very effective strategy.
What your child should understand by the end of third grade.
1.) What an illicit
drug is. Why it is illegal. What it looks like. What harm it can do.
2.) How foods, poisons, medicines, and illicit drugs differ.
3.) How medicines may help during illness, when prescribed by a doctor and administered by
a responsible adult, but also how medicines are drugs that can be harmful if misused.
4.) Why it is important to avoid unknown and possibly dangerous objects, containers, and
5.) Which adults, both at school and outside, you want your child to rely on for answers
to questions or help in an emergency.
6.) Which foods are nutritious and why exercise is important.
7.) What the school and home rules are about alcohol and other drug consumption.
8.) How using alcohol and other drugs is illegal for all children.
Suggestions for empowering your child in kindergarten through third grade to make good
choices that enhances their health and solves interpersonal problems.
1.) Emphasize the
importance of good health by talking about things people do to stay healthy, such as
brushing teeth after each meal, washing hands, eating good foods, getting plenty of rest
and sleep. You can use this discussion to contrast the harmful things that people do, such
as taking drugs, smoking, or drinking to excess.
2.) Discuss illnesses
with which your child is familiar and for which prescription drugs are often necessary.
Many children have had a sore throat, ear infections, flu, and colds. Discussing such
illnesses can help your child understand the difference between medicine and illicit
4.) Practice ways to
say no with your child. Describe situations that may make your child feel uncomfortable;
being invited to ride a bike where you do not allow your child to go, for example, or
being offered medicine or other unfamiliar substances. Give your child some responses to
use in these situations.
5.) Develop a helpers
file of people your child can rely on. Put together a phone list of relatives, family
friends, neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, and the police and fire departments.
Illustrate the list with photos. Talk with your child about the kind of help each person
on the list could provide in case of various unexpected situations, such as being
approached by strangers or losing a house key.
Suggestions for teaching your child to say no.
1.) Ask questions.
If unknown substances are offered, ask, What is it? and Where did
you get it? If a party or other gathering is proposed, ask, Who else is
coming? Where will it be? Will parents be there?
2.) Say no. Don't
argue, don't discuss. Say no and show that you mean it.
3.) Give reasons.
Im doing something else that night or The coach says drugs
will hurt my game are examples of some reasons that youngsters can use. Also, don't
forget the oldest reason: My parents will ground me for life.
4.) Suggest other
things to do. If a friend is offering alcohol or other drugs, saying no is tougher.
Suggesting something else to dogoing to a movie, playing a game, or working together
on a projectshows that drugs are being rejected, not the friend.
5.) Leave. When
all these steps have been tried, get out of the situation immediately. Go home, go to
class, join a group of friends, or talk to someone else.
In this period of
growth your child begins to invest more and more energy into learning. Most children in
this age group love to learn facts. Their curiosity becomes heightened as they want to
learn how things work.
Friendships become important to children in this age group. Children in this age group
begin to form their self-concept in part by acceptance of their peers. This makes it a
particularly vulnerable time for those children who tend to be followers.
This age is perhaps
the most important time for parents to focus on increased efforts at drug prevention.
These late elementary school years are crucial to decisions about the use of alcohol and
other drugs. The greatest risk for starting to smoke comes in the sixth and seventh
grades. Research shows that the earlier youngsters begin to use alcohol and other drugs,
the more likely they are to have real trouble.
Your child will need a
clear no-use message, factual information, and strong motivation to resist pressures to
try alcohol and other drugs and to reinforce the determination to remain drug free.
Appropriate new information for children age 10-12.
1.) Ways to identify
specific drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, and cocaine in their
2.) The long- and short-term effects and consequences of use.
3.) Effects of drugs on different parts of the body, and the reasons why drugs are
especially dangerous for growing bodies.
4.) Consequences of alcohol and other illegal drug use to the family, society, and the
Suggestions for empowering your child in 4th through 6th grade to
make healthy choices about the consumption of alcohol and other drugs.
1.) Create special
times when you are available to talk to your child. Give your child undivided attention. A
walk together, dinner in a quiet place, or a visit to the ice cream parlor after a movie
are some ways to make talking together a little easier.
2.) Encourage your
child to participate in wholesome activities that will allow the child to form new
friendships and have fun. Sports, Scouts, religious-sponsored youth programs, and
community-sponsored youth organizations are excellent ways for children to meet others of
their own age.
3.) Teach your child
to be aware of how alcohol and other drugs are promoted. Discuss the messages that
children are exposed toTV, song lyrics, billboards, and advertisements. Discuss how
these messages tend to glamorize the consumption of alcohol and other drugs. Clearly
separate the myths from the realities of alcohol and other drug use.
4.) Continue to
practice ways to say no with your child, emphasizing ways to refuse alcohol and other
drugs. Its not uncommon for sixth graders to be offered beer and cigarettes and to
know other children who smoke and drink alcohol.
5.) Encourage your
child to join a local anti-drug club or peer assistance group that encourages drug-free
6.) Ask your child to
scan the morning newspaper and to circle any article that has to do with alcohol and other
drug use. No doubt there will be articles about drug-related murders, strife in other
countries due to drug trafficking, and alcohol-related auto accidents. Talk with your
child about the tremendous loss of lives and resources because of the use of alcohol and
7.) Make friends with
the parents of your child's friends so that you can reinforce one anothers efforts
in teaching good personal and social habits. A neighborhood social gathering, sporting
event, or school assembly are good places to meet.
8.) Join with other
parents in providing supervised activities for young people to limit free
time, which often leads to experimentation with alcohol and other drugs.
During the early teens
fitting in with friends is a dominating influence. In some ways, the onset of
puberty is like a rebirth. Children want and need to let go of the past and in so
doing begin to establish their own identity. This often means letting go of old
friendships and ties with teachers and other adults, as well as old ways of doing things.
The decision-making and problem-solving methods that they learned as young children are
still helpful, but young teens will be making new decisions based on new information and
Young people this age
can begin to deal with abstractions and the future. As a result children are beginning to
learn that their actions have consequences and that their behavior affects others. They
sometimes have a shaky self-image as theyre unsure whether they are growing and
changing adequately. Conflict with adults begins to surface. Strong emotional support and
a good model of adult behavior are particularly important now.
Young people who use
alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs typically begin before leaving the ninth grade. Be sure
that family discussions about drugs emphasize the immediate, unpleasant effects of alcohol
and other drug use. Telling junior high school students who are smoking that they will get
lung cancer or heart disease in several decades is less likely to make an impression than
talking about bad breath, stained teeth and fingers, and burned clothing.
Many young people use
drugs because their friends use drugs. A large portion of your prevention efforts during
these years should be spent reinforcing your child's motivation to avoid alcohol and other
drugs. Here are some important steps:
Focus of alcohol and other drug prevention for children in grades 7th
1.) Counteract peer
influence with parent influence. Reinforce your no-alcohol/no-drug use rules and
expectations so that your child clearly understands that drinking and using drugs are
unacceptable and illegal. Children may argue that everyone is doing it and not
experiencing any harmful effects. Inform your child that alcohol and other drug use is
illegal for children and that everyone is not doing it. Emphasize how unpredictable
the effects of alcohol and other drugs can be, so that although many drug users may appear
to function properly, drug use is extremely risky, and all it takes is one bad experience
to change a life.
2.) Get to know your
child's friends and their parents. Meet your child's friends. Invite them to your home
frequently. Share your expectations about behavior with other parents. Work together to
develop a set of rules about curfews, unchaperoned parties, and other social activities.
3.) Monitor your
child's whereabouts. If your child is at a friend's house, be sure that you know the
friend and the parents. If your child is at the movies, be sure you know what film is
playing and at which theater. Last-minute changes in plans, such as visiting a different
friend or going to a different movie, should not be permitted unless the child checks with
Mom, Dad, or another designated adult.
What your child should understand by the end of 9th grade.
characteristics and chemical nature of specific drugs and drug interactions.
2.) The physiology of drug effects on the circulatory, respiratory, nervous, and
3.) The stages of chemical dependency and their unpredictability from person to person.
4.) The ways that alcohol and other drug use affects activities requiring motor
coordination, such as driving a car or participating in sports.
5.) Family history, particularly if alcoholism or other drug addiction has been a problem.
Suggestions for empowering your children in 7th through 9th grade
to make healthy choices about the consumption of alcohol and other drugs.
1.) Continue to
practice ways to say no with your child. Teach your child to recognize problem situations,
such as being at a house where no adults are present and young people are smoking or
drinking beer. Make up situations in which your child may be asked to try alcohol and
other drugs and let the child practice saying no using the steps outlined. Try many
situations until you are confident that your child knows how to say no.
2.) Children this age
are very concerned about how others see them. You can help your child develop a positive
self-image by making sure that the child looks good and feels healthy. In addition to
providing well-balanced meals, keep your refrigerator and pantry stocked with appealing
alternatives to junk food.
3.) Continue to spend
private time with your child to discuss what your child feels is important in his or her
life right now. Your child's fears about emerging sexuality, appearing different from
friends, and going on to high school are real problems and deserve your concern and
review and update, with your child's participation, your house rules and your child's
responsibilities regarding chores, homework, time limit on TV watching, and the curfew on
school and weekend nights. Discuss these questions with your child: Are the rules fair and
the consequences appropriate? Is it time to switch to some new chores? Should there be
fewer or different chores because of added homework assignments or after-school
activities? Should the curfew be adjusted?
5.) Talk with you
child about friendship. Make the point that true friends do not ask each other to do
things they know are wrong and risk harm to themselves, their friends, or their families.
6.) Plan supervised
parties or other activities for your child in your home which reflect a no-alcohol/no-drug
use rule. For example, have your child invite friends to share a pizza and watch TV.
By the time your
children reach tenth grade, they will become more future-oriented. By tenth grade your
children begin to engage in abstract thinking. Children in this age range become more open
to discussing their problems and seeking adult solutions. At the same time, children in
this age range remain group-oriented. Belonging and acceptance b the group motivates much
of their behavior.
What your child should understand by the end of 12th grade.
1.) The immediate and
long-term physical effects of specific drugs
2.) The possibly fatal effects of combining drugs
3.) The relationship of drug use to other diseases and disabilities
4.) The effects of alcohol and other drugs on the fetus during pregnancy
5.) The fact that drug use is not a victimless crime
6.) The effects and possible consequences of operating equipment while using alcohol and
7.) The impact that drug use has on society
8.) The extent of community intervention resources
Suggestions for empowering your children in 10th through
129th grade to make healthy choices about the consumption of alcohol and other
1.) Continue to talk
with your teenager about alcohol and other drug use. Chances are your teen has friends who
use alcohol and other drugs or knows people who do. Talk about how alcohol and other drug
use threatens lives and may limit opportunities for the future.
2.) Plan strategies to
limit your teen's unsupervised hours at home, while you are at work. Researchers have
found that lunchtime and 3:00-6:00 p.m. are periods teenagers are likely to experiment
with alcohol and other drugs.
3.) Encourage your
teenager to work on behalf of a drug prevention program by being trained as a volunteer to
answer hot-line calls or as a peer counselor.
4.) Talk with your
teenager about joining a sports club, drama club, arts and crafts center, or dance studio
or about volunteering to work for a church group or community organization. The busier
your teenager is, the less likely he or she is to be bored and to seek an outlet in
alcohol or other drugs. Volunteer with your teenager, if you have time.
5.) Plan alcohol- and
drug-free activities with other families during school vacations and major holidays, which
can be high-risk idle times for teens.
6.) Make sure your
teen has access to up-to-date information on alcohol and other drugs and their effects.
Make an effort to be informed about any new drugs that are popular, and know their
effects. (For suggested reading, see the resources section at the end of this booklet.)
7.) Cooperate with
other parents to make sure that the parties and social events your teenager attends are
alcohol- and drug-free. Some families choose to draw up a contract holding adults
responsible for parties given in their homes; the contract specifies that all parties will
be supervised and that there is to be no use of alcohol or other drugs. (See "Safe
Homes" in the resource section.)
8.) Help plan
community-sponsored drug-free activities such as alcohol- and drug-free dances and other
recreational activities such as "midnight basketball."
9.) Talk with your
teenager about the future. Discuss your expectations and your teenager's ambitions.
Collect college or vocational catalogs for your teenager, and discuss different
educational and career options. Plan a family outing to local colleges and universities.
What to do
if Your Child is
Consuming Alcohol and Other Drugs
There are many factors
that contribute to why a teenager consumes alcohol and other drugs. Reasons may be: 1.)
How they feel about themselves, 2.) How they get along with others, and 3.) How they live.
No one factor determines who will use drugs and who will not, but here are some
Factors that are potential predictors for teenage alcohol and other drug use.
1.) Low grades or poor school
2.) Aggressive, rebellious behavior
3.) Excessive influence by peers
4.) Lack of parental support and guidance
5.) Behavior problems at an early age
Being alert to the
signs of alcohol and other drug use requires a finely honed eye. It can be difficult to
distinguish between normal teenage behavior and behavior caused by consuming alcohol and
other drugs. Changes that are extreme or that last for more than a few days may signal
alcohol and other drug abuse.
Signs that may indicate your child is consuming alcohol and other drugs.
1.) Does your child seem
withdrawn, depressed, tired, and careless about personal grooming?
2.) Has your child become hostile and uncooperative?
3.) Have your child's relationships with other family members deteriorated?
4.) Has your child dropped his old friends?
5.) Is your child no longer doing well in school - grades slipping, attendance irregular?
6.) Has your child lost interest in hobbies, sports, and other favorite activities?
7.) Have your child's eating or sleeping patterns changed?
Positive answers to
any of these questions can indicate alcohol and other drug use. However, be mindful that
these signs may also apply to a child who who may be having other problems at school or in
the family other than alcohol and other drug consumption. If you are in doubt, consult
with a qualified healthcare provider. Have your family doctor or local clinic examine your
child to rule out illness or other physical problems.
Be on the lookout for
signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia. The presence of common items such as pipes, rolling
papers, small medicine bottles, eye drops, or butane lighters may indicate that your child
is consuming alcohol and other drugs.
Do not allow anger,
resentment, guilt, and a sense of failure as a parent paralyze you if you discover that
your child is consuming alcohol and other drugs. If your child is using alcohol and other
drugs, its important to not blame yourself. Take action. Get help for your entire
family to deal with what you discover. The earlier an alcohol and other drug problem is
discovered and confronted, the better able your entire family can be helped.
If and when you need to confront your child, do not confront a child who is under the
influence of alcohol and other drugs. Wait until your child is sober. Then discuss your
Once you do express your concerns to your child, do so calmly and objectively.
Remember, if youve previously articulated consequences for violation of your no
drinking and drugging policy, impose those consequences. Dont relent because
the youngster promises never to do it again.
Its common for
people to lie about their alcohol and other drug consumption. If you think your child is
not being truthful and the evidence is pretty strong, you may wish to have your child
evaluated by a health professional experienced in diagnosing adolescents with alcohol- and
If your child has
developed a pattern of alcohol and other drug consumption, youll probably need help
to intervene. If you do not know about drug treatment programs in your area, call your
doctor, local hospital, or county mental health society for a referral. Your school
district should have a substance abuse coordinator or a counselor who can refer you to
treatment programs, too. Parents whose children have been through treatment programs can
also provide information.
What not to do if a friend or somebody you love has a problem with alcohol
and other drugs.
1.) Don't attempt to punish,
threaten, bribe, or preach.
2.) Don't try to be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of
guilt and the compulsion to drink or use other drugs.
3.) Don't allow yourself to cover up or make excuses for the alcoholic or drug addict or
shield them from the realistic consequences of their behavior.
4.) Don't take over their responsibilities, leaving them with no sense of importance or
5.) Don't hide or dump bottles, throw out drugs, or shelter them from situations where
alcohol is present.
6.) Don't argue with the person when they are impaired or high.
7.) Don't try to drink along with the problem drinker or take drugs with the drug abuser.
8.) Above all, don't feel guilty or responsible for another's behavior.
What to do if a friend or somebody you love has a problem with alcohol and other
1.) Try to remain calm,
unemotional, and factually honest in speaking about their behavior and its day-to-day
2.) Let the person with the problem know that you are reading and learning about alcohol
and other drug abuse, attending Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Alateen, and other support groups.
3.) Discuss the situation with someone you trust -- someone from the clergy, a social
worker, a counselor, a friend, or some individual who has experienced alcohol or other
drug abuse personally or as a family member.
4.) Establish and maintain a healthy atmosphere in the home, and try to include the
alcohol/drug abuser in family life.
5.) Explain the nature of alcoholism and other drug addiction as an illness to the
children in the family.
6.) Encourage new interests and participate in leisure time activities that the person
enjoys. Encourage them to see old friends.
7.) Be patient and live one day at a time. Alcoholism and other drug addiction generally
takes a long time to develop, and recovery does not occur overnight. Try to accept
setbacks and relapses with calmness and understanding.
8.) Refuse to ride with anyone who's been drinking heavily or using other drugs.
Specific Drugs and their Effects
causes a number of changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair the judgement
and coordination required to drive a car safely. Low to moderate doses of alcohol can
increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including spouse and child abuse.
Moderate to high doses of alcohol cause marked impairments in higher mental functions,
severely altering a person's ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses
cause respiratory depression and death.
Continued use of
alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden cessation of alcohol intake is likely to produce
withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions.
Long-term effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol, especially when combined with
poor nutrition, can lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the
liver. In addition, mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants
with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants may suffer from mental retardation and other
irreversible physical abnormalities. In addition, research indicates that children of
alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other children of becoming alcoholics.
The smoking of tobacco
products is the chief avoidable cause of death in our society. Smokers are more likely
than nonsmokers to contract heart disease - some 170,000 die each year from
smoking-related coronary heart disease. Lung, larynx, esophageal, bladder, pancreatic, and
kidney cancers also strike smokers at increased rates. Some 30 percent of cancer deaths
(130,000 per year) are linked to smoking. Chronic, obstructive lung diseases such as
emphysema and chronic bronchitis are 10 times more likely to occur among smokers than
pregnancy also poses serious risks. Spontaneous abortion, preterm birth, low birth
weights, and fetal and infant deaths are all more likely to occur when the pregnant woman
is a smoker.
contains some 4,000 chemicals, several of which are known carcinogens. Perhaps the most
dangerous substance in tobacco smoke is nicotine. Nicotine is the substance that
reinforces and strengthens the desire to smoke. Because nicotine is highly addictive,
addicts find it very difficult to stop smoking. Of 1,000 typical smokers, fewer than 20
percent succeed in stopping on the first try.
All forms of cannabis
have negative physical and mental effects. Several regularly observed physical effects of
cannabis are a substantial increase in the heart rate, bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth and
throat, and increased appetite.
Use of cannabis may
impair or reduce short-term memory and comprehension, alter sense of time, and reduce
ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination, such as driving a car.
Motivation and cognition may be altered, making the acquisition of new information
difficult. Marijuana can also produce paranoia and psychosis.
Because users often
inhale the unfiltered smoke deeply and then hold it in their lungs as long as possible,
marijuana is damaging to the lungs and pulmonary system. Marijuana smoke contains more
cancer-causing agents than tobacco smoke. Long-term users of cannabis may develop
psychological dependence and require more of the drug to get the same effect. The drug can
become the center of their lives.
is it called?
does it look like?
is it used?
Reefer, Grass, Weed, Dope, Ganja, Mary Jane, or Sinsemilla
dried parsley, with stems and/or seeds; rolled into cigarettes
or black cakes or balls
syrupy liquid varying in color form clear to black
- mixed with tobacco
The immediate negative
effects of inhalants include nausea, sneezing, coughing, nosebleeds, fatigue, lack of
coordination, and loss of appetite. Solvents and aerosol sprays also decrease the heart
and respiratory rates and impair judgement. Amyl and butyl nitrite cause rapid pulse,
headaches, and involuntary passing of urine and feces. Long-term use may result in
hepatitis or brain damage.
Deeply inhaling the
vapors, or using large amounts over a short time, may result in disorientation, violent
behavior, unconsciousness, or death. High concentrations of inhalants can cause
suffocation by displacing the oxygen in the lungs or by depressing the central nervous
system to the point that breathing stops.
Long-term use can
cause weight loss, fatigue, electrolyte imbalance, and muscle fatigue. Repeated sniffing
of concentrated vapors over time can permanently damage the nervous system.
is it called?
does it look like?
is it used?
gas or Whippets
8-gram metal cylinder sold with a balloon or pipe propellant for whipped cream in aerosol
yellowish liquid in ampules
Bolt, Bullet, Locker Room, and Climax
sprays or cleaning fluids
of aerosol propellants, gasoline, glue, paint thinner
Cocaine stimulates the
central nervous system. Its immediate effects include dilated pupils and elevated blood
pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature. Occasional use can cause a
stuffy or runny nose, while chronic use can ulcerate the mucuous membrane of the nose.
Injecting cocaine with contaminated equipment can cause AIDS, hepatitis, and other
diseases. Preparation of freebase, which involves the use of volatile solvents, can result
in death or injury from fire or explosion.
Crack or freebase rock
is extremely addictive, and its effects are felt within 10 seconds. The physical effects
include dilated pupils, increased pulse rate, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, loss of
appetite, tactile hallucinations, paranoia, and seizure. The use of cocaine can cause
death by cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.
is it called?
does it look like?
is it used?
Snow, Nose Candy, Flake, Blow, Big C, Lady, White, and Snowbirds
to tan pellets or crystalline rocks that look like soap
Stimulants can cause
increased heart and respiratory rates, elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, and
decreased appetite. In addition, users may experience sweating, headache, blurred vision,
dizziness, sleeplessness, and anxiety. Extremely high doses can cause a rapid or irregular
heartbeat, tremors, loss of coordination, and even physical collapse. An amphetamine
injection creates a sudden increase in blood pressure that can result in stroke, very high
fever, or heart failure.
In addition to the
physical effects, users report feeling restless, anxious, and moody. Higher doses
intensify the effects. Persons who use larger amounts of amphetamines over a long period
of time can develop an amphetamine psychosis that includes hallucinations, delusions, and
paranoia. These symptoms usually disappear when drug use ceases.
is it called?
does it look like?
is it used?
Uppers, Ups, Black beauties, Pep pills, Copilots, Bumblebees, Hearts, Benzedrine,
Dexedrine, Footballs, and Biphetamine
orally, injected, inhaled
Crystal meth, Crystal methadrine, and Speed
powder, pills, rock that resembles a block of paraffin
orally, injected, inhaled
Cylert, Preludin, Didrex, Pre-State, Voranil, Sandrex, and Plegine
The effects of
depressants are in many ways similar to the effects of alcohol. Small amounts can produce
calmness and very relaxed muscles, but larger doses can cause slurred speech, staggering
gait, and altered perception. Very large doses can cause respiratory depression, coma, and
death. The combination of depressants and alcohol can multiply the effects of the drugs,
increasing the risks.
Regular use of
depressants over time can result in physical and psychological addiction. People who
suddenly stop taking large doses can experience withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety,
insomnia, tremors, delirium, convulsions, and death. Babies born to mothers who abuse
depressants may also be physically dependent on the drugs and show withdrawal symptoms
shortly after they are born. Birth defects and behavioral problems also may result.
is it called?
does it look like?
is it used?
Barbs, Blue Devils, Red Devils, Yellow Jacket, Yellows, Nembutal, Tuinals, Seconal, and
yellow, blue, or red and blue capsules
Librium, Miltown, Serax, Equanil, Miltown, and Tranxene
interrupts the functions of the neocortex, the section of the brain that controls the
intellect and keeps instincts in check. Because the drug blocks pain receptors, violent
PCP episodes may result in self-inflicted injuries. The effects of PCP vary, but users
frequently report a sense of distance and estrangement. Time and body movements are slowed
down. Muscular coordination worsens and senses are dulled. Speech is blocked and
incoherent. In later stages of chronic use, users often exhibit paranoid and violent
behavior and experience hallucinations. Large doses may produce convulsions and coma, as
well as heart and lung failure.
Lysergic acid (LSD),
mescaline, and psilocybin cause illusions and hallucinations. The physical effects may
include dilated pupils, elevated body temperature, increased heart rate and blood
pressure, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and tremors. The user may experience panic,
confusion, suspicion, anxiety, and loss of control. Delayed effects, or flashbacks, can
occur even when use has ceased.
is it called?
does it look like?
is it used?
Hog, Angel Dust, Loveboat, Lovely, Killer Weed
does it look like - Liquid, white crystalline powder, pills, capsules
orally, injected, smoked (sprayed on joints or cigarettes)
Acid, Microdot, White lightning, Blue heaven, and Sugar Cubes
tablets, blotter paper, clear liquid, thin squares of gelatin
orally, licked off paper, gelatin, and liquid can be put in the eyes.
Buttons, and Cactus
brown discs, tablets, capsules
- chewed, swallowed, or smoked or Tablets and capsules - taken orally
or dried mushrooms
produce a feeling of euphoria that often is followed by drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting.
Users may also experience constricted pupils, watery eyes, and itching. An overdose may
produce slow and shallow breathing, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possible death.
Tolerance to narcotics
develops rapidly and dependence is likely. The use of contaminated syringes may result in
disease such as AIDS, endocarditis, and hepatitis. Addiction in pregnant women can lead to
premature, stillborn, or addicted infants who experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
is it called?
does it look like?
is it used?
Horse, Mud, Brown sugar, Junk, Black tar, and Big H
to dark-brown powder or tarlike substance
smoked, or inhaled
compound with codeine, Tylenol with codeine, Codeine in cough medicine
liquid varying in thickness, capsules, tablets
crystals, hypodermic tablets, or injectable solutions
orally, injected, or smoked
Dover's Powder, Parepectolin
brown chunks, powder
eaten, or injected
powder, solution, tablets
Percodan, Tussionex, Fentanyl, Darvon, Talwin, and Lomotil
Illegal drugs are
defined in the terms of their chemical formulas. To circumvent these legal restrictions,
underground chemists modify the molecular structure of certain illegal drugs to produce
analogs known as designer drugs. These drugs can be several hundred times stronger than
the drugs they are designed to imitate.
The narcotic analogs
can cause symptoms such as those seen in Parkinson's disease: uncontrollable tremors,
drooling, impaired speech, paralysis, and irreversible brain damage. Analogs of
amphetamines and methamphetamines cause nausea, blurred vision, chills or sweating, and
faintness. Psychological effects include anxiety, depression, and paranoia. As little as
one dose can cause brain damage. The analogs of phencyclidine cause illusions,
hallucinations, and impaired perception.
is it called?
does it look like?
is it used?
of Fentanyl (Narcotic)
heroin, China white
of Meperidine (Narcotic)
(New heroin), MPPP, synthetic heroin
of Amphetamines or Methamphetamines (Hallucinogens)
(Ecstasy, XTC, Adam, Essence), MDM, STP, PMA, 2, 5-DMA, TMA, DOM, DOB, EVE
powder, tablets, or capsules
orally, injected, or inhaled
of Phencyclidine (PCP)
orally, injected, or smoked
Anabolic steroids are
a group of powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone.
Developed in the 1930's, steroids are seldom prescribed by physicians today. Current
legitimate medical uses are limited to certain kinds of anemia, severe burns, and some
types of breast cancer.
Taken in combination
with a program of muscle-building exercise and diet, steroids may contribute to increases
in body weight and muscular strength. Steroid users subject themselves to more than 70
side effects ranging in severity from liver cancer to acne and including psychological as
well as physical reactions. The liver and cardiovascular systems are most seriously
affected by steroid use. In males, use can cause withered testicles, sterility, and
impotence. In females, irreversible masculine traits can develop along with breast
reduction and sterility. Psychological effects in both sexes include very aggressive
behavior known as "roid rage" and depression. While some side effects appear
quickly, others, such as heart attacks and strokes, may not show up for years.
Signs of steroid use
include quick weight and muscle gains (when used in a weight training program);
aggressiveness and combativeness; jaundice; purple or red spots on the body; swelling of
feet and lower legs; trembling; unexplained darkening of the skin; and persistent
unpleasant breath odor.
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.