Drug Abuse St. Louis: Parent’s Role in Substance Abuse Prevention

Youthful alcohol and other drug use commands center stage as the biggest problem affecting young people and their families. In a Louis Harris Survey 90% of those surveyed rated alcohol and other drugs as more threatening than crime, suicide, school dropouts, unemployment and cigarette smoking. The survey also revealed that 75% of the people surveyed expect parents to take the dominant role in dealing with alcohol and other drug use by their children.

In the 1990s articles containing statistics gathered by the state of New Mexico confirmed the importance of the parent’s role. Parental attitudes and practices related to alcohol are the strongest social influence on childrens’ use of alcohol and other drugs. The nature of the relationship between parent and child has been found to be a key factor in predicting whether or not an adolescent will begin using alcohol and other drugs. The widespread availability to youth of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs poses an over whelming challenge to this generation of parents.

Many parents are not aware of the significant role they can play in preventing alcohol, tobacco and other drug use by their children ages eight to twelve. Children in this age group generally have nonuse attitudes and behaviors that can be reinforced. Waiting until after they reach the early and late teens when they are more easily influenced by peers or after they have started using alcohol and other drugs makes prevention more difficult. A good relationship with supportive parents can help children and teens resist first use.

Many parents need help communicating with their children about prevention issues. One method that worked well for me in the classroom and at home was using books and stories with plots showing the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse in a young person’s life. Reading  the books and stories with my children and students gave me an opportunity to discuss prevention issues. Discussion based on newspaper articles, testimony from young people and prevention curriculum used in a child’s school are also helpful. Reading together coupled with frank discussions will facilitate forming a bond of trust between a parent and child.

References: Louis Harris Survey, 2002, Parent Training Is Prevention (1992 BK184), What You Can Do About Drug Use in America (1991 PHD 587), Parent Awareness and Responsibility, (1993 PHD 611)

Author, Suzanne Zoch, is a retired educator living in Tularosa, New Mexico. She has thirty years experience teaching children and young adults of all ages. She formed Youth Enrichment Services, Inc. in 2004. The purpose of this nonprofit 501C (3) organization is to encourage children to read for pleasure and provide parents with books containing plots that may be used to initiate a discussion about substance abuse, non-violent conflict resolution, gun safety and animal abuse. Suzanne’s books are provided free to indigent children in Lincoln and Otero counties in New Mexico. To learn more about Suzanne’s organization and her books go to http://newbooksforkids.com

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