Kate Elkins: Warn kids of risks

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For some parents, the new marijuana legalization laws may be nerve-wracking, but there are many proven ways that parents can help prevent their sons and/or daughters from using marijuana or other drugs.

Whether it’s using chew tobacco, underage drinking or marijuana usage, the principles are the same. Many parents might feel that their teens are not listening to them or that what they say has no effect. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, national surveys of teens ages 12 to 17 show that teens who believe their parents would strongly disapprove of their substance use were less likely to use substances than others. SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde reports that “Surveys of teens repeatedly show that parents can make an enormous difference in influencing their children’s perceptions of tobacco, alcohol or illicit drug use.”

Talking about the effects of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs with youth and setting clear expectations against use can be critical in preventing teen usage. When it comes to the facts about marijuana’s effect on health and the consequences of using it, there are often many opinions and sides to the story. Some really good websites are available to help parents navigate talking points, and a great place to start is the National Institute on Drug Abuse (www.drugabuse.gov). It’s also important to remember that a big consequence for students is suspension from athletics and clubs in which they participate in, if caught using or possessing marijuana or other drugs (check with your school district’s athletic and activities codes and policies).

On top of talking to young people about substance use and abuse, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition recommends modeling responsible behavior surrounding substance use, enrolling youths in after-school and weekend activities and removing access to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and prescription medications in the home. Grand Futures believes that this holds true for all community members — parents, guardians, mentors, coaches, neighbors, grandparents, teachers, aunts and uncles and older siblings — its everyone’s job to ensure that young people grow up healthy and safe.

Talk to the parents of your children’s friends and set expectations together. Then you can reinforce them with each other’s teens. Community standards that are consistent help set the bar higher for every child and household.

Grand Futures will be publishing additional prevention tips for parents and community members as part of the Thoughtful Parenting column in the Steamboat Today in the upcoming months. Further, Grand Futures has a number of informational brochures and newsletters that parents can access by visiting our website at www.grandfutures.org or stopping by our office at 445 Anglers Drive in Steamboat Springs.

Kate Elkins on behalf of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition

Steamboat Springs

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