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Being a parent means having talks that are not necessarily fun, but definitely necessary. Now that I have two teenagers, I seem to be having more and more of these talks, although I started them when the girls were really little… especially when it comes to substance abuse.
As soon as the girls could talk, we started talking about drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. I wanted them to know that they can always talk about these things to me and Pete, and what was acceptable and not in our family. We set expectations from the very beginning and we continue to add to our talks as they get older.
I also keep educated over new threats to the girls, like new designer drugs, and I read as much as I can about them and ways to educate the girls to protect themselves. Recently I learned about the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the resources they have available to help. A great jump start is National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM. It’s an annual, week-long observance that brings together teens and scientific experts to SHATTER THE MYTHS about substance use and addiction.
This year it will be held January 25-31, 2016.
The week-long observance was launched in 2010 to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens often hear from the Internet, TV, movies, music, or friends. Since its inception, the number of community-based events held to SHATTER THE MYTHS has grown dramatically, with more than 1,500 held last January throughout all 50 states and several international sites. Events link teens with scientists and other experts, creating a safe place for teens to ask questions about drug and alcohol use, without judgment or lectures.
One of the key resources for NDAFW is the “National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge” – a 12-question multiple choice quiz that teens and adults can take to test their knowledge about drugs. Parents can take the IQ Challenge and use the results to start a conversation with their teen about drugs and alcohol. The “Family Checkup” resource, which provides parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free is also a really good tool. It talks about ways to keep the communication open and how to encourage positive behavior which is a great tool in preventative action. Ashley’s workout schedule is also good for preventative action. We know that this is a positive force in her life and that is important at this age.
I myself took the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge and I scored pretty well on it. The way the questions were phrased gave me some really interesting new things to talk to the girls about. I hadn’t really talked to the girls in depth about inhalants, and because of the quiz, I decided I needed to talk to them more about it and how something so common in our home can be so dangerous if used this way.
They also have a drug and alcohol facts sheet so that we can stay up to date on the new names of different drugs, among other things. There were a lot of things on the sheet that I didn’t know. I had heard of bath salts, but not the different names for them like Bloom or Cloud Nine.