Three Steps to Protect Children From Drug and Alcohol Abuse at Home
Many parents envision drug dealers lurking in darkened alleys, but the truth is that a great deal of experimentation with drugs and alcohol begins at home. Kids often experiment with what they find in the medicine cabinet. With so many doctors prescribing Vicodin, OxyContin and other narcotics to adults, there’s a good chance some of these strong medications are available in your home right now. Take steps to prevent drug and alcohol abuse at home.
Talk to your kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
It may seem like a cliché, but clichés always have their origins in truth. Talk to your kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Don’t let them develop their ideas about substance abuse from television, movies or their friends. Explain to them the dangers of experimenting with substances and set a good example by not using any illicit substances. Make sure they understand that prescription medications should always be taken following a doctor’s directions, and they should never take medications prescribed for anyone else.
Keep track of medicines and alcohol in your home — or get rid of them.
It’s easy to forget about old prescriptions and liquor purchased for a party. But monitoring the quantity of substances in your home at all times can prevent kids from experimenting with them. If they know you’ll realize immediately when something is missing, they’re less likely to take it. Keep an eye on your liquor cabinet and make sure you know which prescriptions you still have around the home.
Locking up the liquor cabinet is also an option for many families. Locks keep temptation away from younger children and can give parents peace of mind when they’re out and can’t supervise older kids.
Consider taking old prescription medications to your nearest pharmacy for proper disposal or drop them off at a local medication drop-off drive. Many police and sheriff departments host annual “dispose of your old medicine” days when you can simply drop off unused portions of prescriptions, no questions asked. The police then dispose of them properly. It’s a good way to get any potentially abused substances out of your home if you’re no longer taking them. After all, why hang onto them?
Know the signs of drug and alcohol use.
Lastly, know the signs of drug and alcohol abuse. Common signs include sudden changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Kids who once got only straight A’s at school may suddenly struggle academically. Other kids develop new friendships with kids you don’t know or recognize as they begin hanging out with the “party” crowd. Understanding your child’s friendships, interests and abilities can help you ask the right questions when you suddenly see changes you can’t explain. Even if drugs or alcohol aren’t to blame, you’ll still get a great opportunity to help your child with whatever is on his or her mind.
You may not be able to protect your child from every possible danger, but there are steps you can take to help them avoid drugs and alcohol at home. With some common-sense precautions, you can make your home a drug-free zone that kids will understand and respect.