Informed Families welcomed more than 300 Youth Ambassadors to the fold this fall.
Informed Families Blog
Until recently, most parents were not as concerned about their teenager vaping as they would be if their child experimented with other drugs.
Back to School Transitions Can Lead to Problems
Summer vacation is coming to an end, and your children will be returning to school soon. Some are preparing to transition into middle or high school; while others are heading off to college. These transitions will introduce new environments, new friends and new found freedoms. Research shows that dealing with transitions is often a time when kids get into trouble. If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to have another talk with your kids about your family rules and boundaries regarding underage drinking and substance abuse.
You want to encourage your children’s growing independence, but set appropriate limits. Set clear rules, and then enforce the rules you set. Make sure your children understand what the consequences will be for breaking rules. But equally important, don’t forget to acknowledge the moments when your kids choose healthy behaviors over underage drinking or experimenting with drugs.
According to a recent report, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) Drug-Free Communities (DFC) programs continue to yield consistently reduced youth substances use rates. There has been a decline in prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use among youth. So we know prevention programs and initiatives, like the ones Informed Families offer, work. We all must continue to play a role in creating communities that care about helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.
Let's End the Stigma Associated With Drugs
The Surgeon General’s recent call to end the stigma associated with addiction is long overdue. The stigma surrounding alcohol and drug use and addiction often prevents us from talking openly about these issues with friends, family and most importantly our kids.
It’s much easier to avoid talking about tough topics, especially when we think “that could never happen to one of my loved ones.” No one wants to believe their child is sneaking pills from the medicine cabinet or drinking while out with friends. No one wants to believe their child is experimenting with or using drugs.
The sad truth is that children as young as nine years old already start viewing alcohol in a more positive way, and approximately 3,300 kids, as young as 12 years old, try marijuana each day. Additionally, about five in 10 kids, as young as age 12, obtain prescription pain relievers for non-medical purposes. Furthermore, the research shows that children who first smoke marijuana under the age of 14 are more than five times as likely to abuse drugs as adults than those who first use marijuana at age 18 (NIDA).
It is never too early to talk to your children about the risks of using alcohol and drugs. It may not always seem like it, but kids really do hear their parents say; talk they listen.
Summer Is A Good Time to Refocus On Prevention
Another busy school year is coming to a close and we are all looking forward to having some down time and reconnecting with family. The start of summer is a critical time to talk with your kids about risky behaviors. Teens and college students most often use substances for the first time during June or July, according to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data on adolescents – 2012 and NSDUH data on full-time college students – 2015.
Unfortunately it’s not as easy for parents to recognize that their child might be experimenting with alcohol or drugs. JUUL e-cigarettes that look like USB flash drives, flasks disguised as lotion containers, sunscreen or smart phone cases, and CBD gummies can be hidden in plain sight. These items can all be purchased online. Talk to your kids about the dangers of using drugs or alcohol and arm them with the knowledge they need to make healthy choices. If you need some talking points take a look at these 11 Tips For Talking To Your Kids About Drugs & Alcohol.
It might be hard to acknowledge if your child has a substance abuse problem. It’s also difficult to find help. Many parents often ask - what should I do if my child is dealing with an addiction or mental health issue? The good news is a newly proposed Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act 2019 would help provide the infrastructure and community building that is are critical to getting them the care they need.
Communicating Across Generations
I recently read that some families now have five living generations. Imagine that. Each generation has a totally different world view and processes information in a different way. However simply engaging with others remains the key to communicating effectively.
People make a lot of assumptions about what children and teens do or don't do when it comes to substance abuse. This can be based on the person's own experiences, what he or she sees on social media or in movies or what others may have experienced. Luckily, we don't have to assume, thanks to the Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS) report, which was just released for 2018.
The FYSAS was administered to almost 55,000 Florida students in 686 middle and high schools in February of 2018.
Here are some highlights from the report:
- Alcohol and cigarette use is declining. Between 2006 and 2018, past-month use of alcohol declined by 16.7 percent (11.7% for middle school students and 20.6% among high school students), binge drinking declined by 10 percent (5.3% for middle school students and 13.4% for high school students) and cigarette use declined by 8.1 percent (4.8% for middle school students and 10.6 percent reduction among high school students).
- Binge drinking is still an issue. One out of every 10 high school students reported binge drinking in the last 30 days and one out of seven reported blacking out from drinking.
Here’s one alcohol fact we are happy to see: Florida teens are drinking less. According to the 2014 Youth Substance Abuse Survey, past-month alcohol use decreased 10.2 percentage points in middle schoolers and 13.6 percentage points among high schoolers since 2004.
This good news is that there is solid evidence that the efforts of parents, schools and communities to prevent underage drinking are helping kids be safer and make wiser choices. However, this finding doesn’t mean we can back off those efforts. The same survey found that 1 in 5 high schoolers had reported blacking out from drinking, and another 20 percent had been in the car with an impaired driver. Here are more alcohol facts that parents should know:
Sex and Violence Sell, But What's The Limit?
Are you fed up? Are you willing to act?Calvin Klein debuted a new “Erotica” campaign this month, featuring an image of a photo taken from under a model’s skirt. This “upskirt” ad, not surprisingly, has angered many and prompted The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) to demand that Calvin Klein remove the photo "to stop normalizing and glamorizing sexual harassment." According to Dawn Hawkins ofNCOSE, “there’s a growing trend of sexual harassment where pictures are taken up a woman’s skirt without her knowledge, or without her consent.” Sex sells, but what’s the limit?
Four South Florida teenagers were arrested this month after reportedly taking turns raping an unconscious woman in a hotel at an after prom party.
Children subconsciously believe images and behaviors we allow on screens are acceptable, normal or (heaven forbid) “cool.” Clearly, our social norms and behaviors are impacted by advertising, movies, video games, etc. For example, studies have shown that when teens are regularly exposed to repeated violence while playing video games, they are more likely to demonstrate aggressive behavior.