(StatePoint) All parents want to feel confident that their children are happy, healthy and focused on the future. The unfortunate reality is that drug use can derail these goals and put a strain on families.
Parents can do a lot to curtail their child’s risk. Here are three tips to help keep kids drug-free this school year and beyond.
• Get kids active in extracurricular activities.
Adolescents aged 12 to 17 who participate in extracurricular activities are less likely to use alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
Many extracurricular activities are known to have positive effects on students’ grades, attention span and behavior. Afterschool activities will keep kids engaged in something positive while they are outside the classroom and also provide an incentive for staying healthy. If your school lacks a particular activity in which your child expresses interest, investigate offerings at local community centers.
• Open the lines of communication.
The importance of communicating with your child can’t be overstated. A regular, open dialogue will make children more likely to talk to you about peer pressure and stress—the kinds of factors that can lead to drug use.
You can foster communication by regularly sitting down to dinner as a family and checking in on homework and school projects. Encourage children to invite friends over, so you know more about others with whom they spend their time.
• Test your child.
If you suspect your child is experimenting with drugs, there are tools that can help you find out for certain in the privacy of your own home. Seventy-five percent of high school students have used addictive substances, according to CASAColumbia. Additional research by NSDUH showed that 1.8 million adolescents had used marijuana in the past month since the time of the study.
Home drug testing kits are readily available at your local pharmacy so you can get answers quickly and confidentially. For example, First Check home drug tests detect up to 12 of the most commonly abused drugs in five minutes with over 99 percent accuracy. Testing tips and resources for parents can be found at firstcheckfamily.com.
Be proactive. You have the power to help kids make healthy choices this school year and beyond.