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Helping Your Child Resist Cigarettes, Alcohol And Other Drugs

Apr 17, 2008
Drug use occurs among children of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. American children are bombarded by messages that subtly and often not-so-subtly encourage the use of cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs. The most effective way to reduce your child's risk of using drugs is to be a good role model. Children get confused when they are presented with anti drug education and prevention programs in school but witness use of these substances at home. Children whose parents use alcohol and other drugs are much more likely to use them than are children whose parents don't use them--and children who use alcohol and tobacco at a young age are more likely than other children to go on to use other drugs.

It's never too early to educate your child about ways to resist peer pressure to smoke cigarettes or use other drugs. Start talking about these issues when your child is 5 years old-and keep talking. Don't wait until your child has a drug problem. Teach your child the health, safety, and legal consequences of using drugs and explain that, just like other drugs, alcohol and marijuana can be dangerous. School-age children are very curious and concerned about their bodies, so emphasize staying healthy and avoiding substances that might harm them. Explain how both prescribed and nonprescription medicines that may be of help during illness in the proper dosages can be harmful if misused-by being taken for wrong or misguided reasons, at inappropriate times, or in excessive doses.

If you smoke, try to quit. Never smoke in the house. Try to get family members who smoke to quit. Stress the harmful effects of smoking on a person's appearance and athletic performance, and the powerful addictive hold tobacco can have on the body. Discuss adults your child knows who are trying hard to quit, often without success. Children tend to think that people can quit smoking whenever they want. Point out that chewing tobacco and snuff are just as addictive and harmful as tobacco that is smoked.

Children who start drinking alcohol at a young age are more likely to use alcohol heavily, to have alcohol related problems, to abuse other drugs, and to get into trouble with the law. Because a child's body is smaller than an adult's, alcohol can build up more easily in a child's blood, making a fatal overdose more likely. If you have an occasional cocktail or a glass of wine with dinner, make sure your child understands the difference between with this type of drinking.

A good way to show children the effects of drugs and alcohol is to have them talk to people who are ex addicts. These people should be used to advice children as to why drugs and alcohol are extremely dangerous. As these ex addicts talk to the children, they should talk about their lost dreams, lost families and difficulties that they had to endure so that they could stop drinking or taking drugs.

Generally, children are very curious about what is going on around them. As you strive to train them not to take drugs and alcohol, care should be taken to avoid making any more curious about using drugs and alcohol.
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