Parent Resources

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Ten Ways To Drug-Proof Your Child

“We Can Keep Our Kids Drug Free For Life”, Parade Magazine, 1/16/00, Interview with Gen. Barry McCaffrey

  1. Set a family standard on drug and alcohol use: Tell your children the rules early in grade school and repeat them often. Live by them yourself.
  2. Let kids know there are consequences and punishments for violating all family rules, like no car or TV. Make them clear and fair and enforce them.
  3. Set aside time every day to talk with your kids about their lives, how they feel, what they think. Listen and care.
  4. Help your children establish realistic personal goals in academics, athletics and social life. Then encourage and help them to achieve their goals.
  5. Know your children’s friends and spend time with them.
  6. Get excited about the things your kids care about. Do fun things as a family.
  7. Be aware. Find out the warning signs of drug abuse, from physical changes to hostility to loss of interest in school or hobbies, and watch for them.
  8. Talk with your children about the future. Discuss responsibilities—yours and theirs.
  9. Enjoy your kids. Make your home a happy, positive place.
  10. Be a nosy parent. Ask your children questions, know where they are and who they are with. Let your children know you are asking because you love them.

Eleven Warnings To Avoid – If You Want To Increase The Chances of Your Child Using Drugs

“Parent to Parent”, The Passage Group by Bill Oliver

  1. Be your child’s lawyer. Don’t let them accept personal responsibility for their actions.
  2. Be your child’s banker. Provide money for them whenever she/he asks without earning it.
  3. Be your child’s insurance company. No matter what she/he does, he/she is covered and protected.
  4. Be your child’s agent. Always represent her/him.
  5. Be your child’s mechanic. Fix everything for them.
  6. Be your child’s butler. Clean her/his room; clean up after him/her; etc.
  7. Be your child’s fairy god mother. Wave your wand and make it happen.
  8. Be your child’s doormat. Let her/him take out her/his frustration on you.
  9. Be her/his apologist. Whatever she/he does, always have an excuse for her/him.
  10. Be your child’s administrative assistant. Do her/his homework for her/him, etc.
  11. Fail to teach your child a family belief system.

Reasons Not To Take Medications That Are Not Your Own

  1. Allergic reactions could occur.
  2. Medical history is not taken into consideration. For example, if a student is just recovering from chickenpox or flu, and she/he takes an aspirin, Reyes Syndrome, a very serious illness, could occur.
  3. A reaction to mixing medicine could be extremely dangerous. Two drugs taken together can either affect how one or the other behave in the body, or if the both have the same effect, can have a greater impact than expected. A cold medicine with antihistamine can dangerously increase the sedative effects of some pain killers, tranquilizers, anesthetics, and barbiturates. Other combinations can develop reactions that poison the blood, raise your blood pressure, or contribute to weight gain.

“We Can Keep Our Kids Drug Free For Life”, Parade Magazine, 1/16/00, Interview with Gen. Barry McCaffrey

Prevention Tips

  1. Children need to be able to exercise self-discipline, self-assessment, and self-control.
    • keep child from following the crowd.
    • give kids guided opportunities - put aside something they want to do at the moment in order to achieve something of value.
    • practice the teaching question - “What could you do to remind yourself to get home in time for dinner?”
  2. Children need the ability to operate successfully within a system.
    • teach responsibility based on cause/effect limits and consequences – eg: lose driving privileges if they’ve mixed drinking with driving.
  3. Children need positive role models.
    • values are caught not taught.
    • religion is an avenue for this.
  4. Children need confidence that they can affect what happens to them.
    • must work within limits they recognize and understand.
  5. Children need skills for working effectively with others.
    • cooperation, communicating, negotiating, sharing feelings, empathizing.
  6. Children need a sense of “family” to which they make contributions and for which they have responsibility.
    • when they have a “family”, less of need for peer group.
  7. Children need ability to make judgments.
    • allow kids to follow through on their judgments whenever doing so won’t hurt them.
  8. Children need to feel they are loved and valued.
    • love does not mean approving all of their actions.
  9. Children need clearly defined limits.
    • limits give kids a sense of having dependable surroundings.
    • limits form a framework in which children acquire confidence and responsibility through their choices and consequences of those choices.
  10. Children need to develop self-esteem.
    • separate what children do from who they are.
    • unconditional love.
  11. Children need open, honest communication with their parents.
    • need for expression without fear.

Characteristics Of Adolescent Drug Users

  1. Low self-image
  2. Poor family support
  3. Poor friendship skills
  4. Poor decision-making skills
  5. Immaturity
  6. Low pain tolerance
  7. Problems with communication
  8. Problems with authority
  9. Lack of purpose

Why Kids Use Drugs

  1. Curiosity - usually only once or twice - almost always with alcohol or pot
  2. Escape - usually from emotional pain
  3. Peer pressure
  4. Adult examples
  5. To feel grown up
  6. For kicks
  7. Older siblings do
  8. Become more creative
  9. Deal with negative feelings
  10. Look for spirituality
  11. Relate to others better
  12. Low self-esteem
  13. On a dare

Signs and Symptoms Of Drug Use Among Kids

  1. Abrupt change in mood or attitude.
  2. Sudden decline in attendance or performance at school.
  3. Sudden resistance to discipline at home or school.
  4. Increased borrowing of money from parents or friends.
  5. Heightened secrecy about actions or possessions.
  6. Changing groups of friends.

***It is important to know that all six of these things can just be simple growing pains. These often coincide with hormonal changes the child goes through. The key here then becomes observing and knowing your child so that you can determine the difference between growing pains and when your child is using drugs.

If A Child Is Using Drugs

  1. Don’t be sarcastic with the kid.
  2. Don’t be accusatory - who gave your child the drug, why they gave your child the drug are secondary issues. Primary issue is that your child is using something.
  3. Don’t be seeking sympathy - the kids care less what you or others think.
  4. Don’t be self-blaming.
  5. Don’t ever try to talk to a child while he/she is high on drugs.

Ways Of Dealing With Peer Pressure

  1. Have something else to do.
  2. Be prepared for the different kinds of pressure.
  3. Keep it simple - your declination to use drugs.
  4. Avoid situations where you know drugs are being used.
  5. Talk about things you want to - not about drugs.
  6. Hang out with friends who do not use drugs.
  7. Learn how to handle feelings without use of drugs.
  8. If we feel good about ourselves, other’s teasing will not hurt us.

Teens and Parties

Hosting Parties

  1. Set the ground rules with your teen before the party.
  2. Notify your neighbors that there will be a party.
  3. Notify the police when planning a large party.
  4. Plan to have plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks on hand.
  5. Plan activities with your teen prior to the party.
  6. Limit party attendance and times.
  7. Avoid open house parties.
  8. A parent should be at home during the party.
  9. Do not allow any guest who leaves the party to return.

Attending a Party

  1. Know where your teen will be. Obtain address and phone number.
  2. Be sure your teen knows when she/he is to be home.
  3. Know how your teen will get to and from the party.
  4. Contact the parents of the party giver to verify the occasion. Be sure that a parent will be present and certain that alcohol and drugs will not be permitted.
  5. Be aware or have your teen awaken you when she/he arrives home.
  6. If your teen stays overnight with a friend after the party, check with the parents of the friend beforehand.
  7. You and your teen may want to phone the party giver the next day to express your thanks.

Common Parenting Pitfalls

  1. Inconsistent rules.
    • consequences for breaking rules need to be established ahead.
    • let the kids have input into what should happen if they break rules.
  2. Not taking each child’s personality into consideration.
    • when establishing guidelines for behavior and consequences, take those differences into account.
  3. Punishment not appropriate to the offenses.
    • while the offense needs a punishment, it should be immediate and short-term.
    • punishment is not the goal, observing the rules are.
  4. Allowing children to play off the adults.
    • kids know instinctively if they can get the adults to argue with each other and let them off the hook.
  5. Not gathering sufficient information (not listening).
    • get all the facts behind an incident before taking action.
  6. Taking too much time or too little time to settle problems.
  7. Not being willing to apologize.
    • this provides a valuable model or behavior to follow.
  8. Not showing enough affection.
    • let them know regularly how much you do care.
  9. Not taking enough time to explain the world to your child.
    • share with your kids, and the majority of your kids will begin to share with you.
  10. Giving too many things and not enough self.
    • a thing that will last through the years is the relationship of a parent and child, not the things.


  • Drug Enforcement Administration: The DEA enforces the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States.
  • Gain Together: This is a resource center and meeting place for communities working to reduce the harms associated with the use of illicit drugs, excessive alcohol, or tobacco.
  • National Association for Children of Alcoholics: NACoA is the education and advocacy group that works on behalf of the over 11 million children of alcohol and other drug dependent parents under age 18 in the US. Research-based resources are available on the web site to help caring adults learn more about providing support and information for these vulnerable children.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: NIDA brings the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction.
  • Partnership for a Drug Free America: The Partnership's purpose is to reduce the demand for illegal drugs by changing public attitudes about drugs, and making drug use less acceptable and glamorous. This site provides specific drug information, and the most frequently asked questions on drug-related topics.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA ensures that quality substance abuse and mental health services are available to the people who need them, and that prevention and treatment knowledge is used more effectively in the general health care system. This site also provides access to the home pages of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and the Center for Mental Health Services.
  • National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids
  • National PTA Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Project
  • Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) is a resource for research on addiction and substance abuse. It provides access to information, research and commentary on tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse issues including prevention, treatment and cost data.
  • National Clearinghouse of Drug and Alcohol Information: The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) is the information service of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. NCADI is the world's largest resource for current information and materials about alcohol and other drugs.
  • The National Institute of Justice: As the research agency of the Department of Justice, NIJ supports research, evaluations, and demonstration programs related to drug abuse in the contexts of crime and the criminal justice system.
  • Youth Info Home Page: Youth Info, a new information resource developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services to provide you with the latest information about America's adolescents.